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PERSIAN GULF 1968-1971: 


David James McMunn 

r ,.-y • n 


A Dissertation 
submitted to the Faculty of the 
Graduate School of Georgetown University 
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the 

degree of 
Master of Arts 


David James McMunn, E.A, 

Washington, D.C. 

January 1974 , 



The. 3 ' I 



Preface iv 




The Problem 1 

Foundations of the Treaty System 3 

The Modern Era 7 

Administrative Organization 9 

The Deepening British Involvement 10 

Formation of The Trucial Oman Scouts 13 

The Role of Britain's Armed Forces in 

The Persian Gulf 16 

Indigenous Organizational Development 

in the Shaikhdom 18 

The Treaty System in the 1960 20 

The International Arena 22 

The Decision to Withdraw 24 

Internal Dissention 29 

The Labor Government Defense Policy 

Shift 33 

The Decision Postponed 35 

The Decision Announced 37 

Reaction in Britain 41 

The Point of Departure 42 



JUNE 1970) 44 

Initial Reaction to the Decision to 

Withdraw 44 

The Federation of Arab Emirates Form 48 

Resolution of the Bahrain Issue 53 

British Policy Toward the Federation 61 

Divisions Within the Federation 67 

The Willoughby Defense Review 71 

Composition of the Federation 77 

The Conservative Party's Position 81 


' -I 



DECEMBER 1971) 84* 

The Government Changes 84 

Sir Alec Up The Gulf * 87 

Sir William Luce Appointed 89 

Sir William Up The Gulf 93 

The Policy Change '. 95 

The Conducive Milieu *. 99 

Regional Detente: The Islands 103 

Regional Detente : The Arabs 114 


The Federation Founders 120 

The Retrocession of Legal Jurisdiction 127 

The Shaikhdoms Assume Responsibility for 

Their Foreign Affairs 130 

Governmental Institutions 132 

Security Affairs 139 

Great Britain's Security Role 147 

Trucial Omal Scouts 151 

The Exchange of Notes 152 


Securing British Interests 156 

The Withdrawal Policy 157 

The Pursuit of British Interest 159 

The Accomplishments 160 

The Final Score 166 

Sources Consulted « 169 




Great Britain announced her impending withdrawal 
from the Persian Gulf while I was resident on Bahrain, 
assigned as a staff officer to the U.S. Commander, 
Middle East Force. At the time neither myself nor my 
neighbors, whether British or Bahraini , seemed particu- 
larly impressed by that news. Perhaps in early 1968 
none of us really believed it would happen. Of course 
it did. 

In this belated effort to understand the policy 
and process of the British withdrawal as it occurred 
from 196 8 to 1971, I have come to the realization of 
its profound significance, both to Britain and to the 
states of the Gulf. I found those brief four years of 
intense activity to be no island in time, but rather a 
critical phase in the continuum of western society's 
interaction with the peoples of the Middle East. In 
this broader perspective, the withdrawal policy and 
process was as much an extension of the past as a 
transition for the future. 

My new awareness chiefly derives from insights 
provided by generous men, diplomats and scholars. Of 



course I alone am responsible for the views expressed 
in this work. 

Sir William Luce and Sir Geoffry Arthur were 
especially helpful. Mr. Anthony Reeve's advice and 
assistance was invaluable. My mentor in every sense of 
that word was Professor John S. Badeau. To him I owe 
the unrepayable debt of student to teacher. To these 
men and to the others who helped me in so many ways , 
I express my sincere appreciation. 


A Note on Transliteration from Arabic to 
English. In the following pages, certain Arabic names 
and words have been transliterated into English. No 
systematic procedure was employed in the process, 
except to adopt the most common usages and spellings 
accepted by the sources . 





The Problem 

In January 1968, the British Government 
announced its intention to withdraw its military forces 
from the Persian Gulf within four years. This decision 
signalled a dramatic policy shift, and came as a dis- 
concerting surprise to the Rulers of the shaikhdoms 
that had shared a "special relationship" with Her 
Majesty's Government for nearly one and one-half cen- 
turies . Not only had the British been treaty bound to 
manage all external affairs for Bahrain, Qatar and the 
Trucial States, but London's Political Residents and 
Agents had advised the leaders of those Gulf depen- 
dencies in virtually all areas of governmental adminis- 
tration. Now that association was to be terminated 
within four years and the shaikhdoms would be left on 
their own^ The situation raised the question; how 
would Great Britain continue to pursue her national 
interests in the region, while adapting to her changed 


international relationship with the Persian Gulf 
States? This study seeks to identify her interests, 
review the measures taken to protect them after the 
disengagement, and to gauge the results of Britain's 
withdrawal procedure in that context. 

The diplomatic and military officials at White- 
hall had to implement the 1968 decision. Transcendent 
national interests were readily apparent to them. The 
mundane realities of domestic, regional and inter- 
national politics that also applied were not. Yet the 
manner in which those men contended with and resolved 
the many quandaries confronted in the course of with- 
drawal deeply influenced the Gulf Great Britain's 
forces left behind. 

In 1973, fourteen months after the formal 

British departure, a U.S. Congressman noted: 

. . . never before in the history of mankind 
have so many wealthy industrialized, mili- 
tarily powerful and large states been at the 
potential mercy of small, independent, and 
potentially unstable states which will pro- 
vide, for the forseeable future, the fuel of 
advanced societies. 

To understand the process through which Britain tried 


1 Lee Hamilton, Vital Speeches 39:8 (1 February 
1973): 239. Reprint of speech given on 11 January 
1973 before the U.S. House of Representatives. 


to prepare her Protectorates for that heady status, the 
pre-1968 Treaty System with Gulf will be described. 
Emphasis is placed on its modern development and 
character. The rationale for the British decision to 
terminate that durable and profitable system will then 
be examined. Against this background, the withdrawal 
policy and process of Her Majesty's Government will be 
analyzed, identifying specific diplomatic, military 
and administrative challenges under both Labor and a 
Conservative Party leadership. Finally the performance 
will be assessed, actual accomplishments appraised, 
and the long-term service to Great Britain's national 
interests in the Gulf analyzed. 

Foundations of the Treaty System 

Before examining the policy and process of 
British withdrawal from the Gulf, it is necessary to 
explain Great Britain's role there prior to 1968. It 
began in conjunction with the European trade expansion 
from the sixteenth century onwards, from which the 
British East India Company emerged in the late 
Eighteenth century. It was the foremost foreign 
interest operating along the Persian Gulf litteral. 
The European rivalries had coincided with conflicts 

between Ottoman, Persian and Czarist Russian empires. 
Equally pertinent was the burgeoning Wahhabi revolu- 
tion that swept the Arabian peninsula. The combined 
impact of the various confrontations had generated a 
reassertion of the indigenous Arab presence in the 
Gulf. That appeared as "piracy" to British eyes. Al- 
ready anxious about Napoleon's eastward and Russian 

southern ambitions, a series of East India Company 

officials had adopted an increasingly hard line toward 
any threat to British India. The relatively minor 
commercial impact of the Arab "pirates" thus assumed 
political significance, and several punitive expedi- 
tions were launched against them during the first two 
decades of the Nineteenth Century. These culminated 
with the forced signing of the General Treaty for the 
Cessation of Plunder and Piracy in March 1820. This 
initiated what came to be called the Trucial or Treaty 

^These fears precipitated a series of diplomatic 
maneuvers in the Gulf, beginning with the Anglo-Omani 
qualnamah of 1798, see J. C. Hurewitz, Diplomacy in the 
Near and Middle East: A Diplomatic Record , I (New 
York: Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1956), p. 64, for text. 
J. B. Kelly, Britain and the Persian Gulf: 1795-1880 
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), details the process. 

Text of Treaty contained in C. 0. Aitchison, 
A Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads . . . 
II (Delhi: Govt of India, 1933), p. 245. 


System in the Gulf. Donald Hawley captures the essence 
of that Anglo-Arab relationship by designating this 
the first commandment: "thou shalt not commit piracy 
against British shipping." Thirty-three years later, 
the second commandment was embodied in another British- 
prescribed treaty: "thou shalt not commit piracy 
against each other." In 1892, the trilogy was com- 
pleted as London decreed, "thou shalt not deal with 
any foreign power except the British Government." 
Throughout the Nineteenth Century this deepening Gulf 
involvement reflected primarily the European continental 
rivalries. It occurred despite a conscious effort by 
British officials to avoid being caught up in Arab 
internal affairs. Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy in India, 
exemplified that attitude in a letter to his Bombay 
Governor in 1866. He wrote: 

If I have any influence on . . . policy, I 
should advise that we interfere as little as 
may be possible in the affairs of the Arab 
tribes on the seaboard, and of course still 
less with those of the tribes of the 
interior . . .5 

^Donald Hawley, The Trucial States (London: 
Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1970), p. 18. 

5 Ravinder Kumar, India and the Persian Gulf 
Region, 1858-1907 (London! Asia Publishing House, 
1965) , p. 39. 


Lord Palmerston later defended that policy this way: 
"Turkey is as good a guardian of the route to India as 
any Arab would be." 6 But such blithe reliance on the 
sick man of Europe proved to be untenable. In 1871 , 
the Pasha of Baghdad dispatched an anti-Saudi expedi- 
tion onto the Arabian peninsula, requiring Britain to 
come to the aid of her threatened clients at Bahrain 
and Oman. 7 Later in the century, a rising Germany 
launched an aggressive ' Drang nach Osten ' with an 
attempt to terminate the Berlin-to-Baghdad railway at 
Kuwait. That brought in the Royal Navy, the messianic 
imperialist Lord Curzon, and a secret Anglo-Kuwait 
agreement that even further ensconsed Great gritain in 
the Gulf. 8 By the end of the century, the Treaty 
System had been formalized. 

Maritime treaties had been supplemented with 
political arrangements, and ultimately economic con- 
cessions were granted, giving Britain preferential 

^Elizabeth Monroe, Britain ' s Moment in the 
Middle East 1914-1956 (London: Chatto & Windus , 19 64), 
p. 14. 

R. Bayly Winder, Saudi Arabia in the Nineteenth 
Century (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965), pp. 

See George Kirk, A Short History of the Middle 
East , 6th ed. (London: Methuen, 1966), p. 93. Also 

treatment in the quest for oil. The Rulers of the 
Trucial States, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain had surren- 
dered their sovereign rights to 

1. establish diplomatic relations with any 
foreign power 

2. negotiate treaties with any foreign power 
but Britain 

I 3. cede territory without British approval 

4. cede mineral or oil exploratory rights 
without British approval. 9 

Britain's role in the Gulf, created in response 

to diverse and seemingly isolated incidents, gradually 

became an important underpinning for her empire. 

The Modern Era 

Ironically, the Treaty System outlasted its 
raison d'etre, for India secured her independence in 

see Hurewitz, op. cit. , I, pp. 218-219, for treaty 


J Times (London) (Special Report: Britain and 
the Gulf) , 16 December 1971, p. II. (Husain al 
Baharra) . Also see H. al Baharra, The Legal Status of 
the Arabian Gulf States (London: Manchester Union 
Press, 1968), for extensive treatment of the Treaty 
System's legal aspects. An interesting note, Sir 
Percy Cox actually had secured a similar relationship 
with Abdul Aziz ibn Saud in 1915, but this did not 
last. See J. C. Hurewitz , Diplomacy in the Near and 
Middle East: A Documentary Record 1914-1956 , Vol. 
II (Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1956), 
p. 427. 



1948. That the "removal of the hub" did not lead "to ^ 
an immediate reconsideration of the role of the 
spokes," as Phillip Darby has noted, can be traced to 
a combination of inertia, and more tangibly, to oil. 10 
Whitehall tended to justify its continued presence in 
the Persian Gulf after World War II strategically, 
tying it to the "unexplored British commitment" in the 
Indian Ocean that formed the "starting point and not 
the subject of analysis." 11 The oil was no mere 
rationalization. Since 1932-, when the first 
commercially-producing well was brought in on 
Bahrain, 1 ^ Britain's relations with the shaikhs had 
been geared to that highly profitable and industrially 
essential commodity. World War II had intervened, 
postponing commensurate administrative realignments. 
Only afterwards, in 1946, could the British Government 
remove the shaikhdoms from their Government of India's 

10 British Defense Policy East of Suez 1947-1968 
(London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 9. 

n Ibid., p. 57. 

Benjamin Shwadran, The Middle East, Oil and 
the Great Powers, 19 59 , 2nd ed. (New York: Council 
for Middle Eastern Affairs Press, 1959), p. 374. 


"zone of influence." They were first placed under 
H. M. India Office. Later, the Commonwealth Relations 
Office absorbed the India Office in 1947, and in 1948 
Britain's activities in the Persian Gulf were finally 
brought directly under Foreign Office perview.^-^ 

Administrative Organization 

The Foreign Office position in the Protectorates 
was largely formulated and supervised by the Political 
Residency on Bahrain, and exercised through Political 


Agencies in Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait (until 1961) , Doha 
and (from 1957) Abu Dhabi. 14 The Political Resident 
carried ambassadorial rank, administered extra- 
territorial jurisdiction over all non -Moslems and over 
Moslem subjects of Commonwealth countries, and was 
Commander-in-Chief of the Trucial Oman Scouts. His 
responsibilities touched every aspect of Britain's role 
in the Gulf, including education, monetary exchange, 
transportation, and communication. Sir Rupert Hay, 
who was eight years the Political Resident during the 


Hawley, p. 168. 


See J. B. Kelly, Britain and the Persian Gulf: 

1795-1880 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 911. 
These offices were descended from East India Company 
factory agents, which had been located in Bushire, 


1950s, contended that oil transactions occupied most 
of his official time. He "closely watched" all nego- 
tiations , 

to make sure that nothing is decided which 
will seriously affect the position of the 
Rulers or the British Government. . ." 

In essence, the Political Resident was a coordinator 
on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. Routine direct 
dealings with individual Rulers were handled by the 
Political agents, whose "close personal contact main- 
tained /with7 the Rulers is the outstanding feature of 
the British position in the Persian Gulf." 15 These 
men controlled the right of foreign businessmen to 
enter the area through the device called "N.O.C." (No 
Objection Certificate) , as Britain performed even 
consular and visa functions for her protectorates. 6 

The Deepening British Involvement 

All of these officers were ostensibly in place 
to promote Maritime Peace, but the modern technological 
complexities impinged on that uncomplicated ideal, 

Bandar Abbas, and Basra. 

15 Hay, p. 20. 

^■^ Joseph Malone, Arab Lands of Western Asia 
(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 
1973) , p. 235. _j 


even more than had the political-military considera- 
tions mentioned above (see page 6 ) . As early as 
1864, the first telegraph lines were installed, 17 and 
the replacement of flying boats by land planes required 
Civil Air Agreements between Great Britain and the 
shaikhdoms by the 1930s. Then too, the discovery of 
oil; in commercial quantity furthered the landward 

penetration by British interests. Former Gulf Politi- 


cal Officer, Donald Hawley, wrote, 

Exploration was held up by the war but, after 
it, British attention to the progress of the 
oil companies necessitated a far closer 
interest in internal affairs than had pre- 
viously been paid. 1 ** 

That "closer interest" meant protecting oil ex- 
ploration parties from Bedouin potshots and marauding 
tribal warriors, and greater attention to territorial 
disputes that now rested on the enormous sub-surface 
wealth. 19 Between 1945 and 1948, the interior was even 
more unsettled by a war between the Bani Yas shaikhdoms 

17 See Christina Phelps Harris, "The Persian Gulf 
Submarine Telegraph of 1364," The Geographical Journal 
135 (June 1969): 169-190. 

18 Hawley, p. 173. 


Times (London), 15 November 1971, p. 11. 

(Charles Douglas Home) . 



of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The d'ispute was basically 
territorial, exacerbated by intra-tribal animosities 
that spanned more than a century. 20 This typified the 
traditional unrest that also pitted the maritime 
Quawasim of Ras al Khaima and Sharjah against one 
another, or against their desert-oriented neighbors, in 
what can best be described as a fluid system of 
alliances. The Omani tribes had no monopoly on con- 
flicts. Qatar's territorial dispute with Abu Dhabi was 
also serious, but that was eclipsed by their Zubarra 
dispute with Bahrain. The famed advisor to the al 
Khalifa's for more than a quarter century, Sir Charles 
Belgrave, insisted that this Zubarra question "took up 
more time and presented more difficulties than any of 
the problems with which I had to deal. "21 Because of 
oil, Sir Charles' countrymen in the Foreign Office 
would no longer indulge in the luxury of non-involve- 
ment. 22 After 194 8, some "profound rethinking on 

20 John Duke Anthony, "The Union of Arab Amirates , " 
Middle East Journal 26 (Summer 1972) :279. 

21 Sir Charles Belgrave, Personal Column: Auto- 
biography (London: Hutchinson, 1960), p. 152. 

22patrick Bannerman , Foreign Office Research 
Department, interview held in his Whitehall office, 
London, 25 October 1973. 



Britain's part" followed the Pplitical Resident's 
failure to halt the fighting that brought Shaikh 
Rashid, leader of Dubai's army (and later Vice Presi- 
dent of the United Arab Emirates) , against Shaikh 
Zayed, leader of Abu Dhabi forces (and later President 
of the UAE) . 

Formation of the Trucial Oman 

The means to enforce British policy was lacking, 
and this could no longer be tolerated. The stakes were 
too high. The decision was taken to create a con- 
stabulary, the Trucial Oman Levies, by seconding 
British and Jordanian officers from General Glubb's 
Arab Legion. This was to provide an "effective right 
arm" for Britain's political authorities. The Levies 
would protect the geologists and guard the peace that 
was now a prerequisite for furthering Britain's 
economic interests in the Gulf. 

What changed the Levies from a mobile gendar- 

O A 

merie into a small army was "Buraimi." "The 

23 Hawley, p. 174. 

24*rhe term "Buraimi" is used here because of its 
popular usage in referring to the dispute. In fact, 
the Buraimi Oasis includes nine villages, four in Oman 
and five in Abu Dhabi. Al Ain is the chief Abu Dhabi 



positions of the Governments of Great Britain (on be- 
half of Abu Dhabi and Oman) and Saudi Arabia are 
elaborated in the "Memorials," both submitted for liti- 
gation before an International Tribunal at Geneva. 25 
To summarize the incident, there had been a long- 
standing disagreement over control of the oasis between 
the Sultan of Muscat, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and the 
King of Saudi Arabia. This flared up with the break- 
down of ongoing negotiations in London and Dammam, 
between British (on behalf of their clients) and Saudi 
officials. The local Saudi governor, Amir Turki ibn 
Ataishan, unexpectedly occupied the Buraimi village of 
Hamara in 1952. For three years both sides feinted 
and threatened, though they eventually agreed to inter- 
national arbitration of the problem. 

Again oil lay at the proverbial bottom of the 
territorial dispute. ARAMCO and IPC were competing for 
drilling rights over what had been a refuge oasis and 

village and a major population center. 

25 See Arbitration Concerning Buraimi and the 
Common Frontier between Abu Dhabi and Sauid Arabia: 
Memorial Submitted by the Government of Great Britain 
and Northern Ireland (London: HMSO, 195 5) . The Saudi 
side was presented in Arbitration for the Settlement 
of the Territorial Dispute between Muscat and Abu 
Dhabi on the One Side and Saudi Arabia on the Other: 
Memorial of the Government of Saudi Arabia , 3 vols. , 


' " ~1 

watering hole for the nomadic tribes of varied and 

fluctuating political allegience. In 1955, amid 
mutual recriminations, and some blatent bribery 
attempts by the over-zealous Saudis, the Belgium Resi- 
dent of the International Tribunal finally resigned 
in disgust. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden then 
ordered the Trucial Oman Levies (later called Scouts) 
to occupy the oasis in October 1955. 

In 1951, there had been only two hundred men. 
Now, five hundred strong, they forcibly evicted the 
Saudi forces. By 1968, the Trucial Oman— Scouts would- 
number 1,600 local tribesmen, led by thirty-one 
seconded British and twenty-nine Arab, (mostly 
Jordanian) officers. Backed by evident fire-power, 
they fulfilled their charter, acting as peacemakers 
and lawyers in disputes over well rights, goat-grazing 
and frontiers. ^ Behind them Britain's land, sea and 

Vol. I: Text, Cairo:n.p., 1955. 

26 See J. J. Malone, Arab Lands , pp. 153-159, and 
219-220. Hawley, pp. 186-193. Wendell Phillips, 
Oman: A History (London: Longmans, 1967) offers 
Oman's perspective, and Leonard Mosley, Power Play: 
Oil in the Middle East (New York: Random House, 1973), 
pp. 235-246, has overview. 

^"Going, going. . . . , " The Economist (Special 
Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) (6 June 1970) :34. 


air forces stood ready. 

The Role of Britain's Armed Forces 
in the Persian Gulf ; Modern Era 

In 1952, the old fort at Fujairah had been 
bombarded by a Royal Navy man-of-war to force the re- 
lease of slaves. 28 Elsewhere, Britain's air power had 
been employed 

to quell local disturbances by pin-point 
attacks on local points such as forts, 
supply bases, or buildings occupied by 
dissident groups or local dignitaries. 2 9 

In 1957, H. M. Middle East Command was excluded from a 
massive defense cut-back, because the Government be- 
lieved they "must at all times be ready to defend Aden 
Colony and the Protectorates and the Territories on 
the Persian Gulf. "3° Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd 
reiterated Her Majesty's treaty obligation to protect 
the shaikhdoms, ^1 a commitment that was quickly tested 

28 Hay, p. 129. 

29 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary De- 
bates (Commons), 5th series, vol. 542 (1955) :111. 

3 Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, Statement 
on Defense Estimates (Command 124) 3 April 1957, as re- 
printed in Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces Yearbook , 
1957 (London: Clower, 1957), p. 335. 

3 *Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. 5731 (1957) :107. 



' ' ~1 

in the remote highlands of Oman. There, a full-scale 

revolt broke out on the Jabel Akhdar in 1957. This 
led to the permanent provision of British advisors to 
the Sultan's Armed Forces, a consequential move as 
will be discussed in Chapter Four. Though the limits 
of conventional power were revealed in Oman, the revolt 
was! suppressed. 32 Advocates of increasing British 
forces in the Gulf cited the Anglo-Iranian showdown of 
1951, and, ten years later, Britain's defense of newly 
independent Kuwait, to vindicate the military 
"presence'. In both cases the imminent threat of 
British arms had preserved access to the precious 
petroleum. Moreover, persistent Persian claims to 
Gulf islands under British protection, including the 
most advanced of the shaikhdoras, Bahrain, was con- 
sidered ample justification for even greater troop 
levels in the area. 33 By 1961, 8,000 British military 
personnel were stationed in the Middle East, 3 ^ and up 

32 Darby, pp. 130-132. 

33 John Marlowe, "Arab-Persian Rivalry in the 
Persian Gulf," Royal Central Asian Society Journal 51 
(January 1964):23-31. 


Times (London) , 16 May 1963. 



to 5,000 of them were placed uhder then Political 
Resident, William Luce, to defend newly independent 
Kuwait. 35 After withdrawal from Aden in 1968, there 
were still 6,500 "studiedly inconspicuous" British 
military men in the Gulf. 36 

Indigenous Organizational Development 
in the Shaikhdom 

Another major British innovation of the early 

1950s was the Trucial States Council. Therein the 

Rulers of the seven Trucial States met semi-annually 

to discuss matters of mutual interest and advise on 

expenditures of Britain's Trucial Development Fund. 

From its relatively inauspicious beginning, the forum 

evolved to become the nucleus of federal planning, 

though "it was never part of Britain's policy to 

attempt to force them in this direction.""" By 1965, 

the Council's chairmanship, always held by the 

Political Agent, was relinquished to the Ruler of Ras 

al Khaima, no doubt a compromise choice, and British 


35 New York Times , 4 July 1961. 
36 "Going, going. . . ."p. 34. 

37 Hawley, p. 178. 



influence in subsequent Council deliberations waned. 
Under the Council, Rulers had also established a 
Trucial States Development Office (TSDO) to administer 
development projects, including piping water and 
electricity, road building and educational projects. 
Still the TSDO was less an indigenous than an external 
agency. ° The United Kingdom provided its British 
acting-Director, and most of its funding, (*>1 
million in 1968). j9 The Foreign Office's Overseas 
Development Administration also contributed £200,000 
toward a Gulf Technical College on Bahrain. In addi- 
tion, London supplied the school's B60,000 annual 
running expenses, and the salaries of sixteen British 
expatriates teaching there. From the British Ministry 
of Defense, costs for sea, air and meteorological 
facilities on Bahrain alone exceeded Bl million and 
their annual maintenance was borne entirely by the 
British taxpayer. 40 RAF and army expenditures in 

38 Times (London) (Special Report) 16 December 
1970, p. III. 

39 K. G. Fenelon, The Trucial States: A Brief 
Economic Survey 2nd rev. ed. (Beirut: Khayats, 1969) , 
pp. 39-42. 

4Q Times (London) , (Special Report: Britain and 
the Gulf), 16 December 1970, p. IV (Ralph Izzard) . 



Sharjah were also considerable and are not reflected 
as direct British financial support to the shaikhdoms. 
Further mitigating the impact of the Trucial States 
Development Office were large funds expended uni- 
laterally by third countries. These included Kuwait's 
Fund for Arab Economic Development, Saudi Arabian aid, 
and even projects undertaken by individual shaikhs 
outside the federal concept, particularly Abu Dhabi's 
and Qatar's rulers. 

The Treaty System in the 1960s 

By 1968, the British role had clearly been 

diluted, the inevitable result of modernization and an 

unprecedented economic bonanza. But it was neither 

insignificant nor inhibiting. Sir William Luce, 

Political Resident from 1960 to 1966, is accused by 

some of following 

the time-honored British policy, where Arabs 
are concerned, of never interfering with the 
local rulers except to encourage rivalries 
between them — this tactic being sufficient 
to keep them divided and therefore unlikely 
to kick the British out. 4 l 

This accusation ignores two fundamental facts. First, 

for generations Gulf Arabs had been conditioned to 


Mosley, p. 458. _l 


intrigue, to hate, to distrust each other. They 
ruled by siasi , i.e. political machinations, tribal 
wars, assassinations and threats. No encouragement 
was needed to maintain that tradition. Perhaps the 
insulation of Britain's presence did prolong this, but 
even when united and friendly relations prevailed, the 
Rulers showed no inclination to dissolve their British 
conncections . Second, the "special relationships" did 
not give Britain the subtle manipulative power implied 
by the accusation. Upon his appointment to the Gulf, 
Sir William Luce, experienced in colonial administra- 
tion in the Sudan and at Aden, was himself surprised 
at the statutory limits on a Political Resident 
attempting to direct events under the Treaty System. 
Even the British connivance in the depositions of 
rulers was more in reaction to, than in direction of 
extraordinary circumstances. "Britain's adviv.e was 
ignored more often than not," 42 and increasingly so as 
wealth and sophistication accrued to the shaikhs. 
Yet both the British Government and the Arab Amirs 
perceived an advantage in their evolving, still 


Sir William Luce, interview held at the Bath 

Club, London, 24 October 1973. 



symbiotic association. *3 ' 

The International Arena 

As with most political issues, however, the 
"special relationship" in the Persian Gulf was contro- 
versial. Great Britain had survived the ravages of 
World War II, bombed and battered. Her people had 
nearly seen foreign domination from the other side, 
and they knew it. Economically, her industries 
tottered, while her imperial veins seemed to sap rather 
than strengthen the homeland-. New ideas of nationalism 
and self-government had permeated her colonies. At 
home, many argued for integration with Europe, even 
as the heirs of Pitt and Palmers ton were subjected 
abroad to a dreary litany of hastily-drawn consti- 
tutions and flag-lowering ceremonies all across the 
once mighty empire. In the Near East, the enervating 
Palestinian question gave way to Nasser's Egypt, 
culminating with the explosion of British frustrations 
at Suez in 1956. Taken together, these bitter 

4 ^Some negative aspects of Britain's limited 
influence are documented by Martin Page, "Middle East 
II: Persian Gulf," Atlantic 219 (April 1967):38-42. 
Therein the deterioration of the traditional system of 
rule by the Shaikhs is outlined, with its associated 
political and social abuse of power, despite British 
humanitarian advise. _j 


realities seemed to isolate, to expose as an obsolete 

anarchronism , the British position and policy in the 

Persian Gulf as she entered the decade of the 1960s. 

In the context of the Cold War, that same 

position never seemed too necessary. As Harold Haskins 

wrote in 1967: 

That a Western power structure was needed 
East of Suez was made apparent not so much by 
the loss of positions of strength in the 
Mediterranean, as by the easterly trend of 
Egyptian designs under Soviet sponsorship, 
Iraqi-Iranian clashes over navigation rights 
in the Shatt-al-Arab, increasing restiveness 
in Iran, and growing assertiveness of oil- 
wealthy Persian Gulf shaikhdoms . . . 44 

Harold Wilson, speaking before the House of Commons in 

June of 1964, declared: 

The peace-keeping role, which will over the 
next generation be the main contribution of 
this country to world affairs — peace-keeping 
on behalf of the Commonwealth, of the Western 
alliance and of the United Nations — will 
mean a very big role for this country east of 
Suez. 45 


Compared to the old imperial glories, however illusory 
they may have been, this offered a sorry psychological 

44 Harold Hoskins, "Changing of the Guard in the 
Middle East," Current History , 52 (February 1967) :69. 

45 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons, 5th series, vol. 696 (1964):1403. 



surrogate for the heavy burden that presence implied. 
Still, the Labor Party leader had touched the mood of 
his countrymen. Smitten by the 1963 rebuff by 
Charles DeGaulle of their bid to join the Common 
Market, Wilson's constituency emphasized the non- 
European approach to British foreign policy. 

The Decision to Withdraw 

The elections of 1964 provide a convenient 
watershed from which to begin an analysis of the de- 
cision to withdraw from the Gulf. Both the Tory and 
the Labor Party platforms reflected the national 
predilection to look beyond the continent of Europe to 
Britain's destiny. When Wilson's party won, the new 
government was clearly intent upon "maintaining a 
role — not merely a presence — along the former imperial 
line to the East." 4 ** The new Prime Minister's assured 
his countrymen that no economic constraints would 
force him to relinquish "our world role . . . sometimes 
called our "East of Suez" role . . . " The Economist 

46 Hoskins, p. 70. 


Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 

Debates (Commons) , 5th series, vol. 704 (1964) : 




reported that 

the British government apparently intends 

to ask its allies for permission to regard 

the Rhine Army as a part of a reserve that 

can be switched to the Indian Ocean if need 
be. 48 

The revitalized interest in British fortunes east of 
Suez saw businessmen and diplomats alike involved in 
an aggressive, updated version of the Drang nach Osten . 
By December 1965, they had secured a $300 million 
contract to provide Sauid Arabia a package air defense 
system, outbidding their surprised American counter- 
parts. This capped a "slow comeback in the Arab 
world since the Anglo, French and Israeli attack on 
Egypt in 1956. " 49 

It appeared a new era of British influence had 
dawned. It was therefore somewhat disconcerting to 
find a pessimistic note in the 1965 Defense White 
Paper, hinting at eventual force reductions in Europe 
and east of Suez because of budgetary considerations.^ 
Reaction came swiftly. The Times editorialized that 

48 "East of Suez, West of Suez," The Economist , 
114 (February 6, 1965): 512. 

49 J. A. Morris, "Britain Beats U.S. on $300 
Million Saudi Arms Deal," Washington Post (December 11, 
1965), p. A15. 

50 The Times (London), 14 February 1965, p. 1. _j 


It would be politically irresponsible and 
economically wasteful if our bases were 
abandoned, while they were still needed to 
promote peace in the areas concerned . . . 

The influential daily stressed the unique contribution 

to peace by Her Majesty's forces "in vast areas of the 

world where no other country was able to assume the 

same responsibility. "51 Defense Secretary Denis 

Healey assured the House of Commons of his Government's 

ongoing commitment to fund a large military force in 

the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf: 

I would point out that the justification of 
our military presence east of Suez is not the 
building of a wall against Communist. Nor 
is it for the protection of selfish British 
economic interests. It is essentially the 
maintenance of peace and stability in parts 
of the world where sudden withdrawal of 
colonial rule has too often left the local 
peoples unable to maintain stability without 
some sort of external aid. 52 

Yet, later in the same Parliamentary debate 

over this, Labor's first comprehensive statement of 

defense policy, Mr. Healey was pressed for details on 

just how his ideas would be implemented. His answer 

was revealing. Such matters could not be publicly 

51 Ibid., p. 17. 

52 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. 707 (1965) :1337- 

53ibid., col. 1356. - 1 


discussed, said the Defense Secretary, because of the 
need for "not damaging either our security or weakening 
the morale of our forces." Those men were "seriously 
underequipped and under-manned," and further disclos- 
ures in the White Paper could not improve, but cer- 
tainly could jeopardize, their situation. 53 Thoughtful 
listeners may well have begun to doubt the real 
capabilities of the British military in the Gulf no 
matter how noble their proclaimed purpose for being 

A more fundamental question than tactical 
readiness was also raised at this time. Could the 
military stationed east of Suez positively affect 
British interests under any forseeable circumstances, 
regardless of financial costs? As Elizabeth Monroe 
had observed, they had hardly stemmed the anti-British 
tide of Arab Nationalism and non-alignment, nor had 
they prevented 

discrimination against the oil companies, 
... as was proved at Abadan. It is the 
need for steady income, with which to pay 
for the benefits that they have promised 
their peoples, that prompts all up-to-date 

54 Elizabeth Monroe, "British Bases in the 
Middle East: Assets or Liabilities," International 
Affairs, 42 (January 1965): 27. 



producing countries to do all they can to 
keep production up, sales steady and prices 
as high as possible in a hotly competitive 
market." 54 

Given such cogent reasons for altering the 
status quo, several alternative defense policies had 
been suggested. Only six months prior to his 
assuming the Prime Ministry, Harold Wilson told a uni- 
versity audience in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that al- 
though "we must effectively fulfill our commitments in 
Europe, we felt that there would be a need to transfer 
naval budgetary resources from strategic nuclear to 
conventional strength." 55 This seemed to have been 
accepted in November 1965. Britain announced the pur- 
chase of four Indian Ocean islands (Diego Garcia, 
Farquhar, Aldabra and Des Roches, from Mauritius and 
the Seychelles) to form the British Indian Ocean 
Territory (B.I.O.T.). Costing $8,400,000, the sparsely 
populated new holdings were to provide a naval base for 
Royal Navy aircraft carriers and submarines. A huge 
strategic communications center was also proposed for 
the idyllic tropical locale. Britain's action was 

55 Quoted in "British Arms and the Switch Towards 
Europe," Neville Brown, International Affairs 4 3 
(July 1967) : 27. 


Time , 86-21, 19 November 1965, p. 26. _j 


hailed as "a reaffirmation of her interest in the 
whole area east of Suez," from which the U.S. Defense 
Department "strongly opposed any British pullout 
. . ."" An indication as to the American desire for 
a continuing British presence may be seen in the fact 
that the U.S. picked up the tab for B.I.O.T., the U.S. 
being the only western state with "the physical and 
financial resources required . . ."58 clearly, B.I.O.T. 
represented a new direction in British defense policy 
east of Suez. 

Internal Dissention 

Within months of the B.I.O.T. announcement came 
yet another manifestation of major policy changes. 
Both the Navy Minister and the Lord of the Admiralty 
(Sir William Luce's brother, David) resigned their 
positions in January 1966. They objected to the 
policies that were first published by their Ministry 
in the 196 6 White Paper on Defense the following month. 
Drastic cuts in military expenditures were proclaimed. 
These included the phasing out of the fleet air arm 

57 New York Times , 11 November 1965, p. 1. 

58 Hoskins, "Changing of the Guard . . .," p. 



by the 1970s. The rationale was allegedly economic. ' 

The defense policy of the future would mean: 

Britain will not undertake major operations 
of war except in cooperation with allies . . . 
will not provide another country with military 
assistance unless ... it provides us with 
the facilities we need to make such assistance 
effective in time . . . (and will) make no 
attempt to maintain defense facilities in an 
independent country against its will . . ..59 

The highest naval officials did not leave simply 
to protest the decision to build no more carriers. In- 
stead, they believed that move to be "incompatible with 
our sustaining a major military role east of Suez 
. . ."60 Lord Mayhew called that presence "the prime 
cause of insolvency" and chief obstacle to Britain's 
joining the Common Market. "^l His objections sparked 
a lively debate in Commons. The shadow Defense 
Minister, Enoch Powell, demanded to know just how the 
Labor Party proposed to fulfill its stated commitments, 
considering the White Paper's sweeping reductions. He 
reminded his colleagues that strategic land bases were 

59 Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, The De- 
fense Review , February 1966, Command 2901. 

60 Brown, "British Arms and the Switch . . .," 
p. 469. 

61 Christopher Mayhew, Britain's Role Tomorrow 
(London: Hutchinson & Company, Ltd., 1967), pp. 



fast disappearing, with Aden being the prime 
example. ^2 That colony had been promised independence 
along with a complete British withdrawal by 1968. Why 
should British forces remain in the Persian Gulf? 
His answer came the following day. 

Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart argued that 
the "main object of policy in the Middle East should 
be the maintenance of stability . . . particularly 
with regard to the . . . small states in the Persian 
Gulf." Stewart added, "a number of other countries 
benefit from it /T. e. stability in the Gulf 7 and do 
not take part in the performance of the duty, but it 
benefits us to such an extent that it would be foolish 
for that or any other reason for us to throw the duty 
aside." He had answered Mr. Powell and reidentified 
the priorities for Labor's planners. Resources were 
tight. Growing political restiveness in the Gulf, in 
part aggravated* by Radio Cairo and given added 
poignancy as British soldiers died in the streets of 
Aden, argued strongly with Mayhew and Powell for 
complete withdrawal. But the military presence 

^ 2 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons) 7 25, 5th Series, vol. 7 (1966) : 



"benefits us to such an extent ..." In an eloquent 

synthesis of the Government's perception of their 

dilemma, Stewart ended his testimony by saying: 

We are in the process, as it were, of moving 
from a previous century to a newer kind of 
world. Our task is to see both that the 
movement is carried out and that we do not 
restrict it by mere lack of vision, but also 
that we do not prevent it by running away and 
leaving a disturbed situation and a vacuum of 




British policy-makers straddled the horns of 
that dilemma another year. The 1967 annual Defense 
Review noted that the "Political arrangements have 
been made and the practical preparations are underway 
. . .""4 The Economist termed it "more a working out 
of decisions already taken than a statement of new 
ones. "^^ Overseas defense expenditures had been cut 
by over 47 million pounds, but Defense Minister Healey, 
"in tribute to his persistence and ingenuity, kept 
his options /to* maintain a major role east of Suez 
or to integrate with NATO in Europe7 open . . . until 

63 Ibid., col. 1945-1960. 

64 Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, The 

Defense Review , February 1967, Command 3203, p. 8. 

The Economist, 18 February 1967, p. 589. 




the future of British, and European, foreign policy 
takes a clearer shape." 66 

The Labor Government Defense Policy 

Theoretically, the logic of this flexible 
approach was sound. British foreign policy outside 
Europe aimed "to foster developments which will enable 
the local peoples to live at peace without the presence 
of external forces." 67 This same lofty goal had ex- 
plained their behavior in the past, but now assumed 
an undefined recognition of the inevitability of a 
Gulf withdrawal. As for Europe, Common Market para- 
meters were also vague, and the Labor Government was 
exerting all its energies to hold the uncommitted 
positions. This is why the surprise White Paper of 
July 1967 so profoundly shocked the observers of 
British foreign policy. It seemed a tacit admission 
of inability to* do what was so obviously "best." 
According to the Defense Ministry, the July announce- 
ment marked the end of a three-year review, "revising 
Britain's overseas policy, formulating the role of 

66 Ibid., p. 590. 

67 Command 3203, p. 7. 



military power to support it, and planning the forces 
required to carry out this role." 6 ® It called for a 
total withdrawal from bases in Singapore and Malaysia 
by the mid 1970s, major reductions in the size and 
cost of the defense establishment, and "foreshadowed 
the end of Britain's military role in Asia east of 
Suez." 69 

The 1967 Arab-Israeli June War may actually 
have precipitated this abrupt conclusion of that 
defense review. Not only had the sizeable British 
military presence in the general area been totally 
ineffective in preventing that conflict, but the 
economic effects of that war on Great Britain were 
already being recognized. '0 Informed speculation on 


6 ®Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, Special 
Supplementary Statement , July 1967, Command 3357, p. 

69 Dana Schmidt, New York Times , 19 July 1967, 
p. 1. 

7Q Petroleum Press Service , XXXV (March 1968): 
83. Due to the canal closure and various temporary oil 
embargoes, the additional strain on Britain's balance 
of payments reached $200 million in the last half of 
1967. See also Arabia: When Britain Goes (London: 
Fabian Society, 1967), p. 28, which lists the strong 
objections of the influential Socialist wing of the 
Labor Party of British forces remaining both east of 
Suez and particularly in the Persian Gulf. 


the cause of the policy switch ranged from acceptance 
of the Government's economic explanations, to an edi- 
torial in Le Monde which alleged that France's cross- 
channel neighbor had "continental" ambitions. ^ 
Others cited more immediate circumstances. Neville 
Brown felt it was the severence of the Peking-Jakarta 
connection and the Indonesian 'confrontation' with 
Malaysia that forced the fundamental policy reassess- 
ment.^ 2 Harold Hoskins claimed the United States forced 
the decision by advising their ally to close down, 
"since they no longer served any purpose" in the Far 
East. '^ B U t no one could deny that the slow rate of 
growth in the British economy, coupled with continued 
pressure against her balance of payments offered a 
tremendous incentive to rethink defense policy. 

The Decision Postponed 

Another aspect of the July 1967 Command Paper 
that stimulated speculation was the conspicuous 

71 Le Monde (Paris), 20 July 1967, p. 1. Under 

the editor's heading: "L' evolution vers 1' Europe." 


Brown, "British Arms . . . ," p. 473. 

p. 114. 


Hoskins, "The Changing of the Guard . . .," 



absence of any reference to the Persian Gulf. Only 
two weeks before the far-reaching policy statement 
came out, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, George 
Thompson, actually proposed military expansion in what 
he termed that "cockpit of territorial rivalries." 
He objected to any Gulf withdrawal, for it would leave 
behjind "a dangerous vacuum which might well precipi- 
tate . . . a great power confrontation." Echoing 
the words of Defense Secretary Healey (see page 26), 
Thompson averred that "Her Majesty's Government's aim 
is to build up a stable regional balance of power 
between the countries of the area, but to do that 
takes time. "^ Still many stayed unconvinced of the 
continuing validity of the Gulf policy, given the 
departure of Britain's military from elsewhere east of 
Suez. For example, the London Times attacked the 
omission of Gulf force reductions in the 1967 report 
as evading the v issue: 

The recent events in the Middle East and 
Britain's inability to influence them, make it 
all the more urgent for Britain's military 
position in the Persian Gulf to be considered 
as searchingly as has been her position in the 
Far East. 75 

'^Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary De- 
bates , (Commons), vol. 749 (1967): 2018. 

75 Times (London), 19 July 1967, p. 1. - 1 

The Decision Announced 


Despite a steady stream of denials to the con- 
trary, including high level reassurances to wary Gulf 
shaikhs, the other shoe dropped in January 1968. The 
Gulf was included in the overall British withdrawal 
from east of Suez. Prime Minister Harold Wilson 
went before Commons, head bowed, and made the announce- 
ment to a stunned audience. No longer could Britain 
support the commitments so long defended as necessary 
for regional stability. He told his colleagues that 
"a detailed and searching review of policy by the 
Government in every major field of expenditure, with 
no exceptions, on the basis that no spending program 
could be sacrosanct, "^ 6 had been conducted. The 
Prime Minister noted that cutbacks were also made in 
Health and Welfare and Social Security, but there was 
still little doubt where the Labor Government's new 
priorities rested. As wilson concluded, 

When in the past this nation has set out to 
achieve the domestic objectives it has set 
itself, we have been frustrated by an 
endemic imbalance within the economy. If we 
refuse to abandon these objectives — and we 
do refuse — then the course we must take, 


Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 

Debates (Commons), vol. 756 (1968): 1579. 



however great the temporary cut, is to 
remove the problem once and for all. 77 

Mr. George Brown, Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, identified the crux of the British predicament: 
"International power without economic strength is a 
hollow aim. We have taken the defense decision for 
the economic health of this country." 78 The February 
1968 annual White Paper confirmed the Government's 
policy reversal. The British military in the Gulf 
would henceforth attempt to form "alternate arrange- 
ments for stability." This was a euphemism for a 
do-it-yourself defense program for the shaikhdoms. It 
aimed at integrating the existing British-officered 
Trucial Oman Scouts and local shaikhly guards into a 
regional defense force for the proposed Union of Arab 
Emirates. The Union was to federate the seven 
Trucial States, Qatar and Bahrain. * Defending the 
1968 White Paper, Denis Healey contradicted his earlier 
statements and claimed that the July 1967 White Paper 

77 Ibid., col. 1593. 

78 Ibid., vol. 757 (1968): 730. 

7 ^Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, Command 
3927, p. 5, February 1968. 



» ~1 

was the "real watershed in our post-war defense 

policy." This Gulf decision supposedly "is one of 
timing, not of principle . . ."80 chancellor of the 
Exchequer, Roy Jenkins, was more candid in his assess- 
ment of the decision. In a BBC speech following Mr. 
Wilson's announcement, he admitted, 

We are withdrawing more quickly from the Far 
East and the Persian Gulf, and making big 
consequential savings in defense expenditures. 
We are recognizing that we are no longer a 
superpower. °* 

Surely other than financial consideration in- 
fluenced the British planners. Healey confessed that 
there could even be some 

cases in our imperial history /which7 might 
make the presence of our force an irritant 
rather than a stabilizing factor, particularly 
in the Middle East, where the events of 1956 
still cast a long shadow. 82 

The increasingly untenable military and political 

commitments, perhaps legitimate before the Second 

World War, now faced "Asian, Arab and African 

"Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary De- 
bates , (Commons) , vol. 760 (1968) : 54. 

SlExcerpt reprinted in the New York Times , 
17 January 1968, p. 14. 

82 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons), vol. 757, (1968): 622. 



nationalism . . . which it was neither wise nor 
possible for us to try to resist by force." 8 -* Yet 
these factors had been present and recognized for over 
twenty years, and do not adequately explain Labor's 
sudden change of heart on Britain's special position in 
the Gulf. Their country's sharply deteriorating 
economic situation was new. In November 1967, the 
balance of payment deficit hit the alarming level of 
153 million pounds sterling. In partial reaction, 
Prime Minister Wilson had devalued the British currency 
from $2.80 to $2.40 (pound sterling exchange rate. 8 * 
It is important to realize that the decision to with- 
draw from the Gulf was taken in this economic crisis 
atmosphere. As Phillip Darby put it: 

. . . Just as the east of Suez role was 
largely a product of the existing defense 
system /standing after World War 11/, ulti- 
mately the lack of resources rather than 
intellectual reflection ensured its /i.e. 
the east of Suez roleZ rejection. 85 

83 Ibid., col. 620. 

84 The Economist , 11 December 1967, p. 1117. For 
an explanation of how the above mentioned impact of the 
1967 June War contributed to this, see J. E. Hartshorn, 
"Oil and the Middle East War," World Today , 24 (April 
1968) : 154. 

85 Darby, p. 334. Soviet view is presented by 
D. Volsky, "On the Persian Gulf," New Times 5 (1968): 
14 , and concurs with Darby ' s linkage of devaluation to 


Reaction in Britain 

Predictably, the Tory Party objected to Labor's 

solution to Britain's fiscal crisis. Long defenders 

of a strong defense position, they were appalled at 

the cumulative impact of the February 1966, July 1967 

and January 1968 White Papers. They saw what the 

American editors of Business Week did when that 

magazine noted that 

any future British_military presense in 
the Indian Ocean /appeared/ to be foreclosed 
now, not only by Britain's decision to with- 
draw forces but also by the cancellation 
of its orders for fifty carriers. ^^ 

The Conservative Opposition argued, often using state- 
ments uttered previously by Labor's own spokesmen, 
that stability required a British force in the Gulf. 
They cited the same ideals and lofty principles that 
had been used to justify the previous policy and dis- 
puted the Labor Government's claims of the financial 
savings anticipated with a drawdown of forces. Even 
the liberal British press rejected much of the Govern- 
ment's economic rationale, while agreeing with the 

Gulf withdrawal. 

°"Who fills the vacuum waste of Suez?" Business 
Week , 2003 (20 January 1968), p. 31. 


• ~I 

decision itself. As the New Statesman argued, the 
controversial announcement "will rapidly be accepted 
as inevitable and in due course as an act of states- 
manship. (The fact that the Government took it for 
the wrong reasons is neither here nor there, and will 
soon be forgotten) ."87 

The Point of Departure 

The ensuing pages consider the policy and the 
process of withdrawal. This review of the antecedents 
provides the base of departure. It has established 
that a relatively comfortable "special relationship' 
existed. The Gulf participants and their Foreign 
Office counterparts expected it to continue, perhaps 
modifying and developing certain aspects, but retaining 
the unique character of the Treaty System into the 
mid-1970s. As Phillip Darby wrote, unlike Britain's 
armed services ,,. "the Foreign Office was content to 
operate on a basis of a model which emphasized the 
short run rather than the long run." 88 The Labor 
Government's decision to withdraw, while economically 

87 "The Curater Package," New Statesman (19 
January 1968) : 61. 

88 British Defence Policy East of Suez 1947- 
1968 , p. TW. _j 


based, was really unrelated to specific conditions in 
the Gulf at the time of the announcement in January 
1968. It was disquieting, disconcerting and demanding 
for both the Arabs and the British officials with whom 
they dealt. How Britain met the challenge of with- 
drawal, how she defined and defended her interests, 
will now be discussed. 





(JANUARY 1968 — JUNE 1970) 

Initial Reaction to the 
Decision to Withdraw" 

Both in the British Foreign Office and in the 

Gulf, reaction to Prime Minister Wilson's (18 January 

1968) announcement of withdrawal was one of surprised 

disbelief. One close observer held that the policy 

reversal, coming as it did within six weeks of Minister 

of State Goronwy Roberts' assurance to the contrary, 

"so shattered the British relationship in the Gulf 

that the next twelve months were spent recouping." 

If in fact Anglo-Emirate relations were set back a 

year, that evaluation acquires added significance in 

view of the then British Ambassador to Kuwait's 

description of initial reaction within Her Majesty's 

Gulf diplomatic corps: "Nearly all of us were 

1r. M. Burrell, private interview held at the 
School of Oriental and African Studies (University of 
London), London, 25 October 1973. 




thoroughly appalled at the prospect of getting out in 

four years." 2 Clearly, the British had set themselves 
a monumental task. They had to leave behind a viable 
political structure that would ensure "the one justi- 
fiable expectation for the British government — British 
oil interests will not be endangered." 

Sir Geoffrey Arthur, who accompanied Goronwy 
Roberts when the Emir of Kuwait was formally advised 
of the Labor Government's new Gulf policy, reports that 
Shaikh Sabah voiced his first concern about the de- 
cision's implications for Bahrain. 4 Not coinciden- 
tally, Bahrain's ruler, Shaikh Isa bin Solman al- 
Khalifa, flew directly to Riyadh on learning of the 
announcement, to convey his fears of impending Iranian 
moves. Subsequent reports indicated that this 
meeting between Saudi Arabia's King Feisal and Shaikh 

2 Sir Geoffrey Arthur, Under-Secretary for For- 
eign and Commonwealth Affairs, private interview held 
at his office, Whitehall, London, England, 24 October 

■"Countdown for a Federation," The Economist , 
(Special Survey of the Arabian Peninsula), 6 June 1970, 
p. 33. 

4 Sir Geoffrey Arthur, interview. 

5 Times (London), January 16, 1968, p. 4. 



Isa evoked a Saudi pledge "to support the government 
of Bahrain"" against all foreign threats, and sparked 
plans for a £10 million project to construct a twelve- 
mile causeway, linking Bahrain Island to the Saudi 
mainland . 

Iranian response came swiftly, as the Shah 
abruptly canceled a long-scheduled visit to Feisal on 
only forty-eight hours notice. In Tehran, newsmen 
were privately informed that this Persian snub was 
related directly to theBahraiHn-Saudi meeting. 9 And 
so it was that the first effect of Prime Minister 
Wilson's announced intention to withdraw British 
forces was to polarize Arab and Iranian elements in 
the Gulf. Both sides recognized that the British 
treaty commitments, which guaranteed the shaikhdom's 
independence and promoted the necessary stability for 
British interests, would "be practically worthless 
without a military force to support them on the 

" Christian Science Monitor , 6 March 1968. See 
also the New York Times , 18 January 1968. 

Times (London), 18 January 1968, p. 18. 

8 Times (London), 5 February 1968, p. 4. 


New York Times, 10 February, 1968. 



spot.**** Accordingly, both Arabs and Persians sought 
to secure their own interests. The British did like- 
wise, for though their Gulf policy had changed, peace 
and stability remained the paramount goal of Her 
Majesty's Government. The new circumstances dictated 
that resolution of the Bahrain claim take first 
priority if the January 1968 decision was to be exe- 
cuted effectively. Inter-Arab territorial disputes, 
tribal and shaikhly rivalries and the need to create 
local government organs to perform vital functions of 
state could only be faced after the potentially dis- 
astrous international confrontation over Bahrain was 
averted. H 

At first, Iran tried to keep Bahrain from be- 
coming a focus for anti-Persian sentiment in the Arab 
world. The Iranian Under-Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs asserted in March 1968 that Bahrain "is a 
question separate from /Iran's/ desire for cooperation 

°Husain al-Baharna, The Legal Status of the 
Arabian Gulf States (London: Manchester University 
Press, 1968) , p. 7. 

1 Sir Geoffrey Arthur, interview. See also 
Robert Sullivan, "The Architecture of Western Security 
in the Persian Gulf," Orb is (Spring 1970): 79, for 
explanation of the inherent threat to oil interests 
and to world peace in such a regional bipolarity. 



with the Gulf states." 12 But this ignored fundamental 
survival instincts of local Arab governments and the 
essence of Arab nationalism. Even the two most stable 
monarchial regimes, Riyadh and Kuwait, felt themselves 
threatened by Nasirite forces, and capitulation to the 
Persians in this case would have critically undermined 
their own governments. Tehran's avowed refusal even 
to negotiate the problem with the Arabs threatened to 
polarize the Gulf and preclude the maintenance of 
stable conditions that would guarantee the free flow 
of oil. 13 

The Federation of Arab Emirates 

The Bahrainis were desperate. Some important 

leaders on the island even advocated union with 

Kuwait, but this was not considered feasible by the 

rulers of either state, and so they extended their 

quest for support by actively promoting union with 

other Gulf shaikhdoms. Despite serious political, 

^ Christian Science Monitor , 16 March 1968. 

13 Times (London), 28 January 1968. The Iranian 
rationale is contained in a government source's 
quotation: "there will be nothing to discuss with 
another Gulf power about the future of one's own 
country . " 



social and economic differences, federation was con- 
sidered an important means to mobilize Arab solidarity 
on the issue of territorial integrity and political 
sovereignty. On 27 February 1968, the Federation of 
Gulf Emirates was declared, linking the seven Trucial 
States, Bahrain and Qatar. * This new union was 
welcomed by Cairo Radio as "the 15th Arab State," 
which would protect the Gulf from the "U.S. -backed 
Shah. " 15 This early effort to federate the shaikhdoms 
fell far short of these expectations , but it is im- 
portant to note that the union of nine emirates began 
in reaction to the Persian irredentist policy. 

To some British observers, it appeared that 
"Iran's determination to protect its 'rights and 
interest* in the Gulf 'with all its might' provided an 
unexpected bonus" for the Nasirists, and they blamed 
the Shah's "tactless impetuosity in dealing with the 
Persian Gulf issues" for the situation. ° In 


Karira Shakr, Second Secretary, Bahraxn 

Permanent Mission to the United Nations, interview held 

in his office, New York, New York, 25 September 1973. 

15 Cairo Radio, 28 February 1968; Al-Ahram 
(Cairo), 29 February 1968, quoted in Mizan X (Mar. /Apr. , 
1968) : 50. 

"Persian Gulf: Intemperate Shah," The 
Economist (10 February 1968) : 25. 


contrast to his subordinates, the Shah's first public 
statement in reaction to the British withdrawal 
decision seemed remarkably understated. In it he 
warned the Arabs not to ignore Iranian interests, and 
to Whitehall he added, "We expect other countries to 

respond with more than mere smiles when we extend the 

hand of friendship . The newly formed federation was 

not mentioned by the Shah, but he could hardly have 
been unaware of its anti-Iranian bloodlines. In fact, 
he waited over a month before referring directly to 
the Federation of Arab Emirates (FAE) . On the eve of 
Soviet Premier Kosygin's visit to Tehran in April, 
the Shah denounced the FAE as a British ploy to maintain 
"this historic inequity," that being a Bahrain beyond 
his government's administrative grasp. This anti- 
British propaganda tack had been introduced earlier 
by the Persian Premier, Hoveyda, who warned that 
"Britain's exit from one door should not result, for 
instance in America's entrance from the other door, or 
even Britain's re-entrance in some new form." 

17 Times (London), 14 March 1968, p. 6. 

18 Times (London), 2 April 1968, p. 4. 

^ Christian Science Monitor , 6 March 1968. 
(Ahmad Torokeh) . Actually, America's post-announcement 


Predictably, Arab reaction to the FAE was 
favorable. The Saudi "formal blessing" to the union, 
implicitly backing an Arab Bahrain, came during a 
visit to Riyadh by Qatar's ruler on 3 April 1968. At 
that time , Feisal called for close economic , cultural 
and technical cooperation between the federated 
shaikhdoms and all Arab countries. Coinciding with 
that visit, Shaikh Isa of Bahrain had travelled to 
Baghdad for conferences with the Iraqi government, and 
there became an increasing tendency to view the 
Persian Gulf as an Iranian versus Arab arena. ^0 
Britain was already harvesting the early fruits of her 
precipitate decision, having clearly underestimated 
the divisive tendencies unleashed by her sudden 
announcement. A "dangerously unstable bipolar (Iran 
vs. Saudi Arabia) international subsystem had sprung 
up in the Persian Gulf." If left unchecked, it could 
have disastrous repercussions. 2 ^ 

role to this point had been confined to an ill-conceived 
call for an Arab, Persian, Turkish and Pakistani de- 
fense alliance for the Gulf which had been broadcast by 
Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow on the Voice of 
America. It was promptly rejected by the States con- 
cerned. For details see the New York Times , 23 
January 1968. 

20 Times (London), 2 April 1968, p. 4. 

21 Robert R. Sullivan, "The Architecture of _| 


Additional official statements of support and 

condemnation of the union were soon forthcoming from 

the Saudi and Persian capitals respectively. King 

Feisal was quoted in a New York Times article as 


There need be no power vacuum in that area 
when the British leave in 1971 as long as 
the federation receives the support of the 
United States and its neighbors. We 
certainly support it. 22 

While from Tehran the Shah warned the Arab shaikhs 
against becoming the "inheritors of the -British im- 
perialist policy." 23 Yet it would seem that as the 

Western Security in the Persian Gulf," Orbis (Spring, 
1970): 72. 

22 New York Times , 23 May 1968. Alvin J. 
Cottrell, "The United States and the Future of the 
Gulf after the Bahrain Agreement," New Middle East , 
22 (July 1970): 19, reports longstanding Saudi dis- 
favor toward "the creation of a new entity such as 
that proposed in the Federation on their border." It 
did exist to a limited extent, but never did King 
Feisal openly oppose the union. The Saudi position 
will be treated in further detail in Chapter 4, but 
throughout the withdrawal, the British were more con- 
cerned with Arab-Iranian disputes than the inter- 
Arab disagreements. 

23 Times (London), 27 May 1968, p. 5. See also 
the excerpt from the influential Iranian press, 
Ettelaat , quoted in the Times (London), 30 May 1968, 
p. 8: "If the British imperialists think they can 
continue to keep their feet in the Gulf by manipulat- 
ing some of their Arab stooges, they sure are wrong. 
Iran cannot tolerate political hypocracy." 



Iranian rhetoric intensified, their confidence waned 
in the policy of unyielding opposition to Bahraini in- 
clusion in any Arab federation. In a succinct synop- 
sis, The Economist portrayed the fallacy in the 
Iranian position: 

The Iranian claim to Bahrain merely makes 
its ruler, Shaikh Isa, more anxious to be- 
come a part of a federated family. If 
Bahrain opted out it would be bound to 
seek independence and become one of the 
United Nations' smallest members. And 
where would the Shah be then? His present 
ploy is to play upon Arab susceptibilities 
by condemning the proposed federation as 
another colonialist (British imperialist) 
racket. But the. Arab nationalist capitals, 
above all Cairo, have too many problems at 
home to rise to the bait at present. Later 
perhaps, but not now. 24 

Resolution of the Bahrain Issue 

It may have been that the Shah realized his 
initial policy was counter-productive, for in early 
June of 1968 he diverted his flight to the United 
States to stop briefly in Jidda. An officially 
"cordial" meeting ensued between the Gulf's two major 
monarchs, cooling political tempers and setting the 
stage for an extended visit by King Feisal to Tehran 


"Persian Gulf: Nine in Step," The Economist 

(13 July 1968) : 28. 



later that year. -* This long overdue recognition of 
the need for conciliation may have been in part pre- 
cipitated by outside powers. In the two months prior 
to the June meeting, the Soviet Navy had conducted an 
unprecedented series of ship visits to ports in the 
Gulf, perhaps reminding both sides of their mutual 
vulnerability. 6 Yet another mitigating factor in the 
intensifying Saudi-Iranian competition was the in- 
cessant pressure of Radio Cairo, carrying its Nasirist 
threat against their overriding conservative, dynastic 
interests. 27 

Whatever the immediate cause, this June meeting 
marks an important departure in resolving the Bahrain 
question. Polemical dispatches from Tehran gradually 
subsided, and an Iranian olive-branch was even extended 
to several Trucial State rulers, who officially called 
on the Shah that August. ° Indications of accomodation 
were also forthcoming from London. First, the Times 

25 Times (London), 4 June 1968, p. 5. 

26 Times (London), 13 May 1968. 

27 Sullivan, p. 74. 


Times . (London) , 27 August 1968, p. 4. 



(London) editorially criticized the Labor Government's 
failure to respect Iran's "legitimate" concerns for 
Gulf security, and called for active Foreign Office 
participation in mediating the Arab-Irani dispute. 2 ^ 
Within two months Sir Geoffrey Arthur was recalled from 
Kuwait to Whitehall to serve as Assistant Under- 
Secretary for Middle East Affairs. It is now 
apparent that Sir Geoffrey functioned in the very role 
the Times had demanded, orchestrating an intricate 
complex of negotiations between the Iranians and Arabs 
of several Gulf states. Her Majesty's good offices 
were initially utilized in Kuwait, London, Tehran and 
Manama, and progress was achieved even though Iranians 
refused to deal directly with any Bahraini representa- 
tives. The talks moved to Geneva by the end of 1968. 
There, under United Nations auspices and the leader- 
ship of Dr. Ralph Bunche, what Sir Geoffrey described 
as, "along with Trieste, the only effective secret 
diplomacy since World War II," was concluded. ^^ 

29 "The Dangerous Gulf," Times (London) 17 
August 1968, p. 7. 

This account was gleaned from interviews with 
Sir Geoffrey Arthur and Karim Shakr, and from an 
article by Lester Pearson, "Unforgettable Ralph 
Bunche," Readers Digest (March 1973): 93. 


The public record gives an indication of the 
progress of the secret negotiations. King Feisal 
reached Tehran in November 1968. Accompanied by his 
highest advisors, the Arab King met with the Shah for 
six days of intense bargaining. News reports on 
these meetings tend to substantiate Sir Geoffrey 
Arthur's observation that any serious attempts to 
federate the shaikhdoms would necessarily await Saudi- 
Persian agreement on Bahrain (see above, p. 47). Con- 
siderable horse-trading went on over the heads of the 
shaikhs, but out of it cooperation replaced confron- 
tation as the new theme for Gulf politics. Signifi- 
cantly, following the Tehran Conference, the Shah 
travelled to Kuwait for further consultations on how 


best to obtain regional stability. By December, 
British Defense Minister Denis Healey could say, 
"More progress has been made in the last nine months 
toward reaching a more viable political arrangement 
in the Gulf than has been made in the last twenty 

•^ Times (London), 15 November 1968, p. 7. (Paul 
Martin) , reports Iran dropped her "historic claim" to 
Bahrain and recognized the FAE in exchange for guaran- 
tees that Bahrain would be excluded from any Gulf 


Middle East Journal , Chronology. 


years." - 3 The most important public statement on 
Bahrain ever issued by the Shah came during a state 
visit to New Delhi in January, 1969. In it he uni- 
laterally renounced the use of force in pursuit of the 
Persian claim, implying that a means should be devised 
for testing the popular will of the Bahraini people 
to determine where their allegiance should ultimately 
lie. ^ Three months later the method for such a 
sampling became obvious when Persia's Foreign Minister 
Zahedi climaxed his diplomatic rounds by announcing 
in London that "... whatever the solution ^fbr the 
Bahrain question/ it must go through the United 

Nations."" shah Pavlavi publicly approved of the U.N. 

instrument the following week. Finally Shaikh Isa 

recorded his acceptance of a U.N. supervised "ascer- 
tainment exercise" to measure his people's desires. ' 

33 Quoted in the Times (London) , 19 December 
1968, p. 8. 


Middle East Economic Digest , 10 January 1969, 

XIII-2. Also see R. M. Burrell, The Persian Gulf 
(New York: Library Press, 1972), pp. 41-42. 

35 Times (London), 28 May 1969, p. 6. 

36 Times (London), 10 June 1969, p. 11. 

Times (London), 18 September 1969, p. 6. The 
term "ascertainment exercise" was used to denote a 



Bahrain's reluctance to» submit to a plebescite 
belied the government's insecure political base. The 
al-Khalifa family autocratically governed a relatively 
sophisticated population, and their rule was predicated 
on their absolute authority in all matters. Allowing 
a United Nations commission to measure their' subjects' 
opinions involved a voluntary surrender of authority, 
and potentially unleashed the dissident political 
forces on the island. Whether an act of desperation or 
of political self-confidence, the decision to permit 
an extra-national institution to decide the future of 
Bahrain was reached very deliberately by Shaikh Isa.^8 

The Shah also had to contend with tenacious 
opposition to surrendering what generations of Iranians 
had been taught was Persian soil. The political 

O.N. -supervised opinion sounding. It did not comprise 
a ballot procedure, but instead relied on a crude 
polling technique which produced nevertheless a valid 
sampling of the popular will. Mr. Anthony Reeve, 
British diplomat, interview held at United Kingdom 
Embassy, Washington, 1 December 1973. 


Karim Shakr, interview, 25 September 1973, 

maintains the decision was a demonstration of self- 
confidence taken by a government certain of its popu- 
larity. Canadian Prime Minister Pearson, in his 
memorial to Ralph Bunche, "Unforgettable," p. 93, re- 
lates an anecdote that sheds a somewhat different light 
on the subject. He describes how the fatally ill and 
almost blind Dr. Bunche few to Geneva and personally 
reassured the Bahrainis, who began to back out of a _j 


- ~l 
liability was enhanced by the fact that the censure 

eminated from the right-wing, conservative elements 

of Iranian society, which comprise the power-base of 

the monarchy. His predicament was evident when he 

said, "We have renounced the use of force, nevertheless 

this is a question of prestige and it must be 

solved." 39 

Apparently the Shah and the Shaikh discovered a 

way to meet their problem, for the secret negotiations 

at Geneva ended with the public appointment of 

Vittorio Winspeare Guiciardi, Director General of the 

United Nations Geneva Office, to administer the 

Bahrain opinion poll.*®' The "ascertainment exercise" 

was held in April and the anticipated results announced 

on 2 May 1970. The Bahrainis had opted "overwhelmingly 

settlement during the final stage of the secret 

39 Quoted in the Times (London), 10 June 1969, 
p. 11. While both Sir William Luce and Sir Geoffrey 
Arthur emphasized the Shah's substantial sacrifice on 
the Bahrain issue, the Times Diplomatic Correspondent 
suggested that the problem was not "a matter of as 
much concern to the (Iranian) general public as the 
(Iranian) government likes to tell foreign correspon- 
jdents . . .,"15 March 1968, p. 7. . 


U.N. Monthly Chronicle 7 (April 1970) : 



to attain full independence and sovereignty" and that 
"Bahrain should be an Arab state. ^ Iran's Permanent 
Representative to the U.N., Mehdi Vakil, immediately 
accepted the outcome, noting that the "long-standing 
dispute had come to an end." The United Kingdom l s 
Permanent U.N. Representative, Lord Caradon, effusively 
attributed the successful conclusion to the irresistable 
combination of "British restraint, Iranian magnanimity, 
United Nations impartiality, Italian fairness of judg- 
ment and Arab dignity and self-respect." Others 
have alleged that more tangible factors were at work, 
specifically contained in a secret corollary to the 
Iranian agreement that decided the remaining Arab- 
Irani territorial conflict over the Abu Musa and 
Tumbs islands in Tehran's favor. 4 ^ This is strongly 
denied, however, by British Foreign Office sources and 
by Sir William Luce. The general impression they give 

41 U.N. Monthly Chronicle 7 (May 1970): 3. 

42 Ibid. , pp. 4-6. 

43 Joseph J. Malone, The Arab Lands of Western 
iia (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 
Il 9 7 3 ) , p. 239, and Michael Burrell, interview, October 
|1973, both imply an Anglo-Iranian understanding on 
Persian control of these islands had been reached. 



is that all concerned recognized the need to settle 
Bahrain before getting on with the withdrawal of 
British forces from the Gulf. The only compromise 
reached on the islands issue was an agreement to dis- 
agree. Subsequent events certainly indicate that, 
secret corollary or none, the Abu Musa and Tumbs 
controversy remained unsettled up to the last hours of 
Britain's formal presence in the Persian Gulf. 44 

British Policy Toward the 

Resolution of the Bahrain conflict was an essen- 
tial prerequisite for forming a viable political 
structure on the Arab side. Bahrain, as the most 
populous and politically advanced shaikhdom, could 
hardly be expected to participate in any meaningful 
regional planning before her own future status was re- 
solved. Nor would the smaller states be free to act. 

4 ^sir Geoffrey Arthur, interview, claimed that 
the primary reasons for Sir William Luce's appointment 
as Special Representative of the Foreign Secretary was 
to resolve the islands issue. Sir William, while not 
completely agreeing with the priority, did indicate 
the islands issue occupied most of his energies. 
Interview held at the Bath Club, London 24 October 
1973. Both were substantiated by Mr. Anthony Reeve, 
who served as Trucial States Desk Officer for the 
Foreign Office from January 1970 until the withdrawal 
was completed. Interview held at the British Embassy 
to the United States, Washington, 1 October 1973. . 


As was shown above, the genesis of the original union 
was reactionary, a kind of fall-back position the 
shaikhs turned to after their initial stunned (not to 
say pathetic) attempt to oppose withdrawal. 45 Abu 
Dhabi's Shaikh Zayd, on behalf of the Trucial rulers, 
had proposed to underwrite the expense of maintaining 
some British forces in the Gulf. The shaikhs had 
hoped that this might alleviate the cause for the 
decision, and £25 million was reportedly offered. ^^ 
After a rude rebuff by the British, 4 ^ Shaikhs Zayd and 
Rashid (the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai) looked 
inward, if not in desperation, at least in the absence 
of any alternative. The proclaimed their intention to 

Patrick Bannerman, Foreign Office Research 
Department Middle East Desk Officer, interview held 
in his office at Whitehall, London, England, 25 
October 1973, pointed out that the rulers were 
"schizophrenic about the withdrawal, wanting to re- 
verse the decision yet seeing the impossibility of 
doing so." 

" Times (London), 22 January 19 68,. p. 4. 

47 Times (London), 20 February 1968, p. 4. Also 
see Malone, The Arab Lands , p. 237. Karim Shakr stated 
that the funds were to be provided by Abu Dhabi and 
Dubai. Sir William Luce was one of many British 
leaders critical of this perfunctory handling. He 
wrote: "Afert all, other people pay for our forces 

. . It should have been given very careful considera- 
tion," see, "Britain's Withdrawal from the Middle 
East and Persian Gulf," Journal of the Royal United 
Services Institute 114 (March 1969) : 9. _l 


jointly administer foreign policy, defense and 
internal security, and to invite the other five Trucial 
States to do the same. Bahrain and Qatar were in- 
itially considered too far advanced for inclusion, but 
when Bahrain objected to the implied isolation (citing 
fears of Iranian occupation) , she aligned herself with 
the budding federation. Qatar quickly followed 
suit. 48 In a highly uncharacteristic display of 
unanimity and alacrity, the nine rulers met at Abu 
Dhabi, 26 February 1968. Qatar proposed a federal 
executive Council of Rulers, to be supplemented by 
consultative councils of defense, economic and 
cultural affairs. 49 The meeting adjourned to the 
euphoric accolades of the Arab press (see above, p. 47). 
Even the sceptical British press enthusiastically re- 
ported that the "old rivalries seemed to have been 
buried in a common desire for a united front." 50 

48 Times_ (London), 20 February 1968, p. 4, for 
early moves. For text of the original Abu Dhabi-Dubai 
agreement see Orient (Hamburg), April 1968, p. 67. 
Additional legal background on the early stages of the 
union contained in Husain M. al-Baharna, Legal Status 
of the Arabian Gulf States (London: Manchester Univer- 
sity Press, 1968), pp. 328-331. 

49 Times (London), 27 February 1968, p. 5. 

50 Times (London), 28 February 1968, p. 5. Also 
see, "Persian Gulf: Desert Merger," Time , 1 March _j 


The British played no role in the creation of 
the union apart from the negative effect of Defense 
Minister Healey's rejection of Shaikh Zayd's offer. 
The Foreign Office "warmly welcomed "" and smiled 
paternally on what was a genuine Arab initiative. * 
On the other hand, they deliberately maintained a low 
profile in support of the union to spare the shaikhs 
the stigma among the Arab Nationalists of too close 
an identification with the British, f The shaikhs 
independently reinforced this effect by inviting no 
British officials to the conference. -> 4 It has been 
perennial British policy to encourage both eventual 
self-sufficiency and some sort of union, but most 
realistic observers agreed that few concrete 
accomplishments had been generated. The phlegmatic 
effort to develop the shaikhdoms before 1968 did not 
derive from an deliberate British attempt to prolong 


1968, p. 25, for an optimistic review of these events. 
51 Times (London), 20 February 1968, p. 4. 


Karim Shakr, interview. Alyo Sir Geoffrey 
Arthur , interview . 

53 Patrick Bannerraan, interview. 

54 Times (London) , 28 February 1968. 



the dependency status. Nor was it the practical 
effect of a British plot to divide and rule. * In- 
stead, it stemmed from complacency born of mutual 
satisfaction. Both the British and the Arab rulers, 
enjoyed their unique, symbiotic relationship and 
neither really wanted it to end. The lack of progress 
was belatedly admitted by Labor Party spokesman, Mr. 
Denis Healey, before the House of Commons, when he 
declared in March 1970: 

. . . all progress which has been made in 
the Gulf in the past twenty years towards 
cooperation among the local states, notably 
between Iran and Saudi Arabia, on the future 
of Bahrain and the movement towards a union 
in the lower Gulf, started only after Her 
Majesty's Government announced three years 
in advance that they planned to leave the 
Gulf. 56 

The 1968 announcement changed what had been an 
academic exercise with no real program for implementa- 
tion into a practical necessity. Few could quarrel 
with the need for a more positive declaration of intent 

As suggested by Leonard Mosely, Power Play; 
The Story of Oil in the Middle East (New York: Random 
House, 1973) , p. 360. 

Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. 812 (1 March 1971) : 
1231. This writer inferred from the interview with Mr. 
Bannerman that Mr. Healey' s opinion was substantially 


to withdraw than had been previously stated. Objec- 
tions were raised, however, regarding the timing of 
this announcement, against both its self-imposed 1971 
deadline and because it caught local rulers and their 
British advisors by surprise. These factors forced 
what would have been "realistic policy objectives 
within ten years to become realistic policy objectives 
in three or four years," 58 and undermined the shaikhs' 
confidence in the British military and civilian 
officials assigned as their advisors. Complicating 
matters further, the rulers' dismay quickly turned to 
disbelief when the opposition leader, Edward Heath, 
declared his Conservative Party's intention to 
"ignore the time phasing laid down by the Prime 
Minister and his government for the Far East and the 
Middle East." 5 " The natural predilection to believe 
that what one wants to happen will occur was augmented 

5 ^See Luce, "Britain's Withdrawal from the 
Middle East and the Persian Gulf," p. 7. Also see 
Michael Burrell's observation, p. 44 above. 

58 Mr. Anthony Reeve, interview. At the time of 
the announcement Mr. Reeve was serving as the Assistant 
Political Agent in Qatar. 

5 ^Great Britain, Parliamentary Debates (Commons) , 
5th series, vol. 756 (18 January 1963): 756. 


by the unusually close ties that linked several 
shaikhs to the Conservative Party. *>0 

D ivisions Within the Federation 

The British combination of poor preparation, an 
ill-timed announcement, and a serious credibility gap 
exacerbated the inherent divisions, parochialism and 
inexperience of the Arabs. Despite the impression of 
solidarity expressed in the news reports cited above, 
the initial meeting of the rulers had exposed many of 
the inter-shaikhly rivalries. Bahrain was especially 
castigated, particularly by those who feared Iranian 
retribution for their political involvement with the 
al-Khalifa family. From the Bahraini perspective, 
this attitude spawned a continuing push to exclude 
them from the federation. It was expressed in the 
interminable debates on the capital location, and 
over constitutional bases for governing the union. ^ 
Yet there is good reason to believe these were more 
than ersatz issues, for Bahrain's practical differences 

Michael Burrell, interview. The effect of 
|this Tory position on the development of the federation 
rill be treated in detail below. 

Karim Shakr, interview. 



with her sister shaikhdoms reflected more fundamental 
distinctions of both substance and style. She 
possessed nearly half of the nine shaikhdoms* half 
"million population. Bahrain was the only Gulf state 
where the indigenous Arabs were not tribally oriented 
and organized, and in which the rudiments of modern 
political and economic systems existed.** 2 Thus the 
opposition to Bahrain emanated from more than fear of 
Iran. It did not go unnoticed by the less populous 
and socially retarded Trucial States that adoption of 
Bahrain's proposals for a closely-knit federation, 
a proportionally-based legislative assembly, strong 
central government headquartered on Bahrain, and 
broad governmental participation in the economic and 
social spheres, portended Bahrain's eventual domination 
of the federation. Bahrain's reputation as a hotbed 
of radicalism, her poor economic prospects following 
British withdrawal, and her "arrogant and patronizing 
approach to her Gulf neighbors virtually assured 
concerted opposition to any Bahraini initiatives. -* 


° 2 Aramco Background Information: The Nine 
Amirates (Dhahran: Aramco , 1970), pp. 1-3. Also see 
The Middle East and North Africa: 1963-1969 , 16th 
ecT (London : Europa Publications Ltd. , 1969) , p. 55 5. 

"Countdown for a Federation," The 



On the other hand, the Bahrainis' commitment to 
a union itself was suspect. As indicated above, her 
initial move toward federation had been in response 
to the Iranian threat. Subsequent compromises during 
the debates with her sister shaikhdoms were accepted by 
the Bahrainis in an effort to maintain the illusion of 
Arab solidarity for the edification of the Shah. As 
the secret negotiations dragged on in Geneva, the 
Bahrainis' position on the constitutional bases of the 
union was eroded. By the October 1969 meeting of the 
nine rulers, she was informally commited to accepting 
relatively minor ministerial portfolios and the loose 
federal form advocated by her opponents, chiefly Qatar 
and Dubai. Had not Ras al Khairaa's Shaikh Saqr stormed 
out of that forum, disrupting it before the signatures 
had actually been appended to the compromise agreement, 

Bahrain might have been formally bound to abide by it. 


Economist (Special Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) , 
6 June 197 0, p. 33. The Bahraini proposals were de- 
lineated by Karim Shakr, interview. 


Contrary to John Duke Anthony's article "The 

(Union of Arab Amirates," Middle East Journal (Summer 

1972): 284, it was this 1969 meeting and not the Oct. 

1970 meeting that collapsed over a Constitutional 
| dispute between Bahrain and Qatar. See The Economist , 

237 (31 October 1970): 30. At that 1970 meeting the 
iQataris accused the Bahrainis of breaking their word 

and, from the facts described above, the accusation _j 


Instead, the Iranian claim to Bahrain was renounced ' 
and an unfettered Bahraini delegation reopened federa- 
tion negotiations, free to renege on the concessions 
that had been extracted but never formalized. 65 

This fortuitous coincidence of Bahraini needs 
and Ras al-Khaima's actions raised many an eyebrow. 
Sir, Geoffrey Arthur called it "a put up job." 66 
Ostensibly, Shaikh Saqr was spontaneously revulsed by 
"the sudden intrusion" of British Political Agent, 
James Treadwell, into the Abu Dhabi meeting. In fact, 
Treadwell had been scheduled to read an official 
letter from the Political Resident, which rather 
inocuously encouraged the rulers to resolve their 

differences expeditiously in the interests of forming 

a more perfect union. Shaikh Saqr, one of the 

wiliest of the Gulf rulers, was not one to be offended 

by such a bland admonishment. Joseph Malone 

may have some merit. 

65 Karim Shakr, interview. 

66 Ibid. 

67 Times (London), 27 October . 1969 , p. 6, con- 
tains excerpts of the letter as released by the Foreign 
Office the preceeding day. 



perceptibly analyzes the incident: "Observers 
variously saw Saudi, Iraqi and Iranian influence behind 
the old shaikh's actions, but connoisseurs of Gulf 
politics asserted that he was in the pay of all 
three countries . " " 8 

The Willoughby Defense Review 

The machinations manifested in the October 1969 
meeting had characterized inter- shaikhly relations 
for hundreds of years. As noted in Chapter One, the 
Shaikhdoms had been created, largely out of long- 
standing internal feuds. 69 The leaders had been condi- 
tioned for generations to intrigue, to hate, to dis- 
trust one another. It is not surprising, therefore, 
that one of the few positive accomplishments of the 
young federation had actually been contracted for, and 
was the product of foreign labors. At the October 
1968 meeting, the nine rulers laid the "theoretical 

68 Malone, Arab Lands , p. 238. And the list of 
suspects with a motive and the means to sabotage the 
meeting grows the more one studies the problem. At a 
minimum Qatar and Bahrain could well have had a hand 
in Saqr's pocket. 

^ 9 See John Duke Anthony, "The Union of Arab 
Amirates," Middle East Journal 26 (Summer 1970): 271- 
287, wherein pertinent rivalries are elaborated. 



foundations" for establishing a joint military force 
to replace the 6,000 British troops assigned to the 

As with other federation matters, this military 
issue divided the shaikhs between those desiring a 
close union and those preferring the loose federation. 
And, as with most controversial matters, their initial 
response was to establish a committee to study and 
report back with the findings. However, they soon 
realized that the dearth of indigenous military 
expertise required the rulers commission a foreign 
military expert to make recommendations on creating a 
defense system. ^0 The individual was chosen by the 
rulers shortly after the October 1968 meeting adjourned. 
To no one's surprise, he turned out to be British 
Array officer, Major-General Sir John Willoughby. 
Significantly, this officer had been Commander of the 
British army in the Middle East, and had engineered the 
difficult withdrawal of forces from Aden. 

From Whitehall's standpoint, British policy 
toward future local defense arrangements had already 
been elucidated in the Supplementary Statement on 

7 ° Times (London) , 22 October 1968, p. 6. See also 
Middle East Journal f Chronology . . 


Defense Policy issued in July 1968: 

In parallel with the withdrawal of our 
forces, we wish to see a steady evolution 
in the local arrangements for defense and 
cooperation . . . discussions about the 
disposal of our installations will be 
opened with the Persian Gulf States. 71 

Again the shaikhdoms* and Her Majesty's policies dove- 
tailed neatly, bespeaking a greater coordination than 
either side will admit. 

The Willoughby Report was completed in the 
Spring of 1969. It recommended the incorporation of 
the Trucial Oman Scouts, their associated facilities 
and equipment, and the individual state defense 
forces into one union Defense Force. 2 Arabization 
of that army was to be a part of the program, as had 
' been recommended by the liberal wing of the Labor 
Party two years earlier. 7 ^ Most British military 
advisors expected this to be a slow process, due to 
the continuing requirement for outside technical 


7^-Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, Command 
Paper 3701, p. 5. 

72 Times (London), 8 April 1969, p. 9. (A. M. 
Rendel) . 

"Arabia When Britain Goes," Fabian Society 
Research Series , 259 (London, Fabian Society) , April 
1967, p. 23. 



support for "some years" after 1971. 74 Willoughby ' 
proceeded to recommend a force composition that would 
double the number of Trucial Oman Scouts and include 
British-made high performance jet aircraft, helicopters, 
patrol craft and air-defense missile systems, with 
seconded and contract British officers integrated into 
the command structure. 75 His input reflected a heavy 
emphasis on suppressing potential internal subversive 
movements, as opposed to withstanding any specific 
external threat. 

It is particularly instructive to read an 
article by Major-General Willoughby published only a 
few months before he was contracted for this study. 
In it he alluded to the "high potential for insur- 
gency" in the Persian Gulf, and suggested techniques 
to counter such a threat, based primarily on his 
experience in Aden.° When the rulers accepted his 

74 Times (London), 8 April 1969, p. 9 (A. M. 
Rendel) . 

75 "Going, going . . .," The Economist (Special 
Survey on the Arabian Peninsula] 235 (6 June 1970) : 35. 
Also see Henry Stanhope, "Growing Naval Activity is 
Expected," Times (London) (SPecial Report: Britain 
and the Gulf) : V. 

"Problems of Counter Insurgency in the Middle 
East," Journal of the Royal United Services Institute 
63 (May 1968) : 108. . 


report in July 1969, the internal subversion threat, 
"instigated possibly by one or more foreign powers 
with the aim of installing a puppet or revolutionary 
government" was re-emphasized by Willoughby.77 He 
also maintained that the Union's defenses should be 
capable of withstanding a foreign invasion long enough 
to mobilize world opinion in the United Nations and 
to bring in allies. The reports implied strongly that 
private armies, such as the burgeoning Abu Dhabi De- 
fense Force, should be allocated to the Union. Command 
would be delegated to a seconded British officer to 
avoid placing all military resources under any one 
shaikh. ° It had been generally recognized that the 
real strength of the 1,600 man Trucial Oman Scouts 
had rested on just such independence. ^ 

Though the Willoughby Report contained virtually 
no surprises and received verbal support from nearly 


See Times (London) , military correspondent, 

A. M. Rendel, report of July 21, 1969, p. 4, for 

details of composition and missions. 

78 Times (London), 30 July 1969, p. 4, (Rendel). 
An indication of the Dubai reaction to all of this 
came from Mehdi al-Tajer, director of the Ruler's 
office, who openly expressed his fervent wish that 
Britain remain past 1971. 

The Economist , (Special Survey of the Arabian 
Peninsula) 235 (6 June 1970): 34. _l 


all quarters, its fundamental call for uniting the 

varied defense organizations in the Gulf was ignored. 

Shaikh Zayd continued to develop his Abu Dhabi Defense 

Force (ADDF) . In 1969 the noted correspondent Nicholas 

Herbert wrote, "I have heard talk in Abu Dhabi of the 

ADDF's ability to handle the Saudi' s in a border 

war." 80 By 1970, the force reached the level of 

Brigade strength (that is two infantry regiments, an 

armored car regiment and an artillery squadron, a 

squadron (12) of Hunters, and a 12 patrol-boat Navy). 

Qatar's Security Force was only slightly smaller. The 

Bahrain Defense Force, begun in 1969, was also growing 

independently, and even Ras al-Khaima created her own 

300 man "mobile force" in 1969. 8l The traditional 

predilection for self-sufficiency was again undermining 

a successful transition of power. As late as February 

1970, official British policy had not gone much beyond 

the limited goal of the 1968 statement (see above, 

p. 73) . The annual Statement of Defense Estimates 

could only note that "emphasis has again been placed on 

advising and assisting local forces in the preparation 

80 Times (London), 6 October 1969, p. 13. 

81 Times (London) , (Special Report: Britain and 
the Gulf), 16 December 1970, p. IV. _l 


82 1 

f ° r out depa """ from a. Guw 

- 1 * °V ^e end of 1971." 
^ E22i ^n^f_ E h e _ !S a S r a ti os 

Explanations abound for »m , 
—«• by British ad • ^-luster perfor- 

r itl sh advisors and the Arah u •• 
*« tradition of rautual ""*«»> •■»«». The 

* e.tre.e social aTd " ^ ^ °~ 

ai and economic di SMr -. 

Actions were ailuded to abQ d " l "~*"- 

fusion in the • ^ ^"i"' 5 **" 

in the unxon was discussed a 

the composition of the • * "** apparent , 

or the union, not of ,-*- 

institutions, was the fund, — Ponent 

^e fundamental issue u 

and to a lesser Ho as Bah "in, 
J-esser degree was Qatar ~ * 

to make their system ■ "***** as 

^sterns incompatible with the 
^cial shaikhdoms? * SeVen 

The Fabian Societv 4-u . 

*°=ialist an, f """^ in «-"tial 

J- - L5T - arm of the t =u~ 

tne -Labor Partv h=^ 

*» »«7. opposin, a nnion of nili J^ °" ~ 

r e a — - -~ : int :i r ct ° f 

the foreseeable future ■ ^deration in 

future xs unrealistic ■ K a 
•oci« development and the 9 ross 0f "" 
^•"several, , Nation i^alan- 
^J""^^. sources insist that 

».. P >" — n, Ministry of oefense, co^and 
""Arabia: When Britain Goes , .. p _ „ 


Great Britain had pushed for a union of nine. 8 * 

Correspondent Michael Wall sardonically observed that 

the British recipe for stability is the 
creation of a federation of the nine Gulf 
amirates . . . /th"is7 looks as sensible on 
Whitehall desks as did the federations 
proposed for South Arabia, the Caribbean, 
Malaysia and Nigeria. 85 

But British officials deny this to a man. Sir Geoffrey 

Arthur asserts that "everyone knew it would be 

seven," 86 and the Foreign Office Research Department 

reportedly warned at the time that Qatari and Bahraini 

participation "unnecessarily exacerbated centrifugal 

forces" that sprang from the internal rivalries within 

the seven Trucial States. 87 In May 1969, Foreign 

Secretary Michael Stewart provided an indication that 

these opinions were based on more than perfect hindsight, 

by reaffirming his government ' s preference for a 

"mini- federation /T.e., without Bahrain/ to none at 


Malone, Arab Lands , p. 238. Also see The 

Economist , (Special Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) , 

6 June 1970, p. 33. 

g c 

Quoted from an article by Nevill Brown, "Brit- 
ain and the Gulf — Don't Go Just Yet Please! The Wisdom 
of Withdrawal Reconsidered," New Middle East 24 
(September 1970): 44. 

Q C 

°Sir Geoffrey Arthur, interview. 
87 Patrick Bannerman, interview. 


all." 88 , - n 

Encouragement for the larger grouping was emana- 
ting from a powerful outside source, however, that 
being King Feisal in Saudi Arabia. He hoped to dilute 
the power and prestige of his old Buraimi rival, Shaikh 
Zayd of Abu Dhabi, by adding the virtual Saudi clients 
in Doha and Manama to the federation. He also reasoned 
that a union of nine would be less inclined to take 
instructions from Tehran. 8 ^ Ironically, the Foreign 
Office concluded that Feisal considered the seven- 
state grouping to be a British ploy, upgrading Shaikh 
Zayd's relative power in the Gulf,90 in a post- 
withdrawal version of the old divide and rule devise. 

The myriad of internal and external conflicting 
interests, maneuvering within the Byzantine atmosphere 
of Gulf politics, had a debilitating effect during the 
two and one-half years that preceded the ousting of 

88 Times (London), 30 May 1969, p. 6. 

8 ^Patrick Bannerman, interview. Sir William 
Luce confirmed this impression of the Saudi role, 
noting that as late as April 1971, he personally tried 
and failed to convince King Feisal that a union of nine 
was not feasible. 


Sir Geoffrey Arthur, interview. 



Britain's Labor Government in 'June 1970. The ceaseless 

constitutional bickering over political representation, 

capital location, and diplomatic corps and defense 

force composition, simply manifested the larger, the 
substantive differences. The rulers refused to face 
these issues, consistently establishing committees and 
sub-committees to review the reports of still other 
committees and sub-committees. Statements were released 
and non-decisions announced, while a veritable 
bureaucracy of study groups grew up in lock-step accor- 
dance with the rules of parliamentary procedure. 
Perhaps all this provided a necessary educational and 
experiential transition, since particularly the Trucial 
State rulers had evolved in a highly traditional 
society, made even more anachronistic by the insulating 
British presence. Where there had been moderate social 
and economic development under British tutelage, the 

Arab rulers' resistance to political advancement had 

been almost total. Considering this reinforced 

parochialism, one can sympathize with the shaikhs, who, 

^Sir William Luce considered the capital loca- 
tion issue "a nonsense', interview. 

92 "Arabia: When Britain Goes," Fabian Society 
Research Series 259 (London, Fabian Society) , April 
1967, p. 19. _j 


' ' 1 

with the British withdrawal, faced a complete reorgani- 

zation of their power system. The Economist 

described the situation: 

Since the February, 1968 formation of the 
federation, traditional family feuds, tribal 
dissent, greed for money and power and, above 
all, the slow realization of what federation 
really meant have blocked every attempt to 

move forward beyond mere agreement to the 
idea. 94 

The Conservative Party's Position 

Yet much of the blame must be shared by the 
British. Sir Alec Douglas-Home condemned the January 
1968 announcement of the decision to withdraw for 
bringing "to the surface tensions which had hitherto 
lain dormant." 95 But the Conservatives contributed to 
the negative impact by announcing their intention to 
reverse the decision (see above, p. 66). Following an 
April 1969 visit to the Gulf, Mr. Heath insisted that 
his talks with "seven major rulers, a large number of 

9 Patrick Bannerman, interview. Also see The 
Economist (Special Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) , 
pp. 33-34, for extended discussion on this aspect of 
the transition. 

94 "Countdown, " The Economist , p. 33. 

95 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons), 5th series, vol. 812 (1971) : 

vnr. — 



merchants and people in the Emirates , as well as people 
in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt" left him certain that 
the British presence should remain after 1971. 96 How- 
ever, the Shah of Iran refuted Mr. Heath's contention: 

We have never regarded the British presence in 
the Gulf as for us. It has always been 
against. Your Government has always favored the 
Arabs at our expense. It was your Government's 
decision to go and we shall not invite you 
back — I made this clear to Mr. Heath when he 
was here . . . . " 97 

Predictably, the British Labor Government also 

disclaimed support for Mr. Heath's view. Foreign 

Secretary Michael Stewart sensibly acknowledged the 

impossibility of reversing the withdrawal decision 

"... because the world has changed and so has the 

British role east of Suez." 98 The former Political 

Resident in the Gulf, Sir William Luce, whose views 

were highly regarded by British policy makers, agreed 

that, while disapproving of the timing and method of 

the decision, it had "set in motion certain processes 


Times (London), 10 April 1969, p. 5. The 

following day the Times , p. 8, reported Mr. Heath de- 
clared that Conservative Party policy was to remain 
after 1971. 

97 Times (London), 10 June 1969, p. 11. (Winston 
Churchill) . 

98 Times (London) , 30 May 1969, p. 6. 



which cannot be put back." 99 The Times diplomatic 
correspondent, after a two week survey of opinion in 
the area, reported "unanimity among /British/ diplo- 
< mats and the military" that the Tory-advocated policy 
reversal "would make the eventual withdrawal, and the 
achievement of stable conditions after it, all the 
harder. "100 The reasoning was obvious, "so long as 
! the British are there, and hint that in certain circum- 
i stances they may be prepared to stay, the rulers have 
no incentive to push on with the federation." 

99 Sir William Luce, "Britain's Withdrawal from 
the Middle East and Persian Gulf," Journal of the Royal 
Un ited Services Institute 114 (March 1969) : 6-8. This 
in itself was a reversal of the personal position 
taken in an article by Sir William Luce in 19 67, when 
he called for a gradual withdrawal based on the Kuwait 
model, wherein military protection was guaranteed 
even after the direct political connection had been 
severed. See "Britain and the Persian Gulf," Round 
Table 227 (July 1967) : 277-283. 


Times (London), 8 April 1969, p. 9. (A. M. 

Rendel) . 


The Economist 237 (31 October 1970): 33. 





(JUNE 1970-DECEMBER 1971) 

The Government Changes 

Both the Labor Government's announcement of the 
withdrawal plan in January 1968 and the Conservative 
Party's opposition to the policy were based on domestic 
and international political considerations that only 
indirectly related to the conditions in the Gulf. As 
discussed in Chapter II, the Labor Government's de- 
cision was taken because, within the Party ranks, 
domestic affairs outweighed foreign affairs when allo- 
cating their limited resources. So too did the 
Conservative Party position embody the views of a 
significant British political constituency. This group 
believed that, "the legacy of empires survives . . . 
in the unwritten moral and sentimental duty felt by 
many in Britain" to previous imperial clients and in 
"the numerous explicit British treaty commitments to 
SEATO, to CENTO, to the countries of the Persian Gulf, 

84 J 



and to Malaysia and with Singapore. ~* 

Appealing to this mentality, Mr. Heath and his 
party hammered away on their anti-withdrawal theme. 
Shadow Foreign Secretary, Alec Douglas-Home, endorsed 
a right-wing party pamphlet that "mobilized the facts 
which are consistent with a /Soviet^ intention to 
outflank Europe by naval action ..." The pamphlet 
asserted that "the Labour Government's decision to 
withdraw from the Gulf is an open invitation to fill 
the vacuum left by Britain's departure." In November 
he wrote the foreword for another Conservative pamphlet 
that called for maintaining a military presence in the 
Gulf, where "the governments consider our presence to 
be of paramount importance for the future stability of 
the area." 3 The influential Economist editorially 

L. W. Marlin, "British Defense Policy: the 
Long Recessional," Adelphi Papers 61 (November 1969): 

2 Red Fleet Off Suez (London: Conservative 
Political Centre, January 1969) , forword and p. 10. 
Sir Alec, a Conservative Party spokesman on foreign 
affairs, had consistently called for maintaining a mili- 
tary British presence in the Gulf because "a presence 
denies an opening for a possible enemy looking to stir 
the pot of trouble." As quoted in the Times (London), 
25 August 1969, p. 4. 

3 A Presence East of Suez (London: Conservative 

Political Centre, November 1969), see forword and p. 
14. Sir Alex applauded this illustration of "the 


- 1 
backed this line, noting that,' though a working 

federation of Arab states could have been achieved had 

it "been pursued vigorously before the oil wealth . . . 

not only has it come too late but the attempt is being 

made to push it through too fast." 4 Opposition leader 

Edward Heath succinctly conveyed the Tory position in 

an article in Foreign Affairs : 

' It is more and more recognized that the 
economies promised as a result of the policy 
of withdrawal are false in the sense that 
they expose British interests and the future 
of our friends to an unacceptable risk.^ 

When elections were called in early 1970, 

repudiation of Labor's Gulf policy became a key plank 

in the Tory Party platform. Political pundits felt 

this contributed to the surprising June 1970 victory 

by Mr. Heath. 6 

extent of British economic interest in the areas of the 
Persian Gulf . . . and to the absolute need" for 
Britain to maintain access to the oil. 

"Countdown for a Federation," The Economist 

(Special Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) 235 (6 June 

1970): 33. 

5n Realism in British Foreign Policy," Foreign 
Affairs 48 (October 1, 1969): 50. 

Times (London) , 23 June 1971, p. 1. 



Not only had the Conservative platform pleased 
their electorate, it reportedly cheered their American 
allies. President Nixon's fragile, "jerry-built" con- 
tingency plans for a Vietnam-burdened U.S. response to 
the proposed pull-out could now be set aside. * 
Secretary of State Rogers, "one of those white, Anglo- 
Saxon, Protestant Americans who believe' that Britain 
still has a worldwide role . . .," pressured for quick, 

official implementation of Heath's campaign promise to 


remain in the Gulf. 

Sir Alec Up the Gulf 

Perhaps in partial response, in one of the new 
Government's first moves, Foreign Secretary Sir Alec 
Douglas-Home was dispatched to the Gulf in a 'fact- 
finding' mission. Sir Alec was to assess the possi- 
bility of halting the withdrawal, and he contacted 
each of the Gulf shaikhs to determine their views. 
Opinions of the major regional powers were also to be 
solicited. The Economist applauded the action: 

It is right that the British government is 
taking a long, cool look at the situation 
in the Persian Gulf before it decides 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid., 27 June 1970, p. 1. _l 


whether or not to keep a military presence 
there. 9 

But the facts Sir Alec found were somewhat at 
odds with the pre-election rhetoric. Naturally, the 
rulers of Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States desired 
a formidable British presence in the Gulf. They re- 
garded it as "protection against internal subversion, 
against any hope by their more powerful neighbors to 
swallow them up, or by one shaikhdom to take over 
another. " 10 But in highly uncharacteristic concert, 
Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran all agreed the 
British should be out of the Gulf on schedule. 
Politically, Iraq had aligned opposite her ex-Mandatory 
tutor for years. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait opposed 
the continuation because they believed: 

1. they now possess sufficient military power 
to handle regional defense; 

2. British military strength amounts to only 
about 6,0 00 men, a totally inadequate force 
to provide realistic security; 

3. the British troops are more likely to be 
an incitement to external groups than a 
deterrent; and 

4. the British military presence might serve 

9 "Sir Alec Up the Gulf," The Economist 236 
(18 July 1970) : 14. 

10 Ibid. _J 


as an excuse for some other extra-regional 
power (such as the Soviet Union or Red China) 
to establish a base in the Persian Gulf 
region. ^-1 

Sir William Luce Appointed 

Sir Alec returned to London in June 1970, with- 
out any real excuse for continuing the British presence 
in the Gulf. In recognition of the regional realities, 
and in the reaction to strong Foreign Office pressure 
to stick to the 1971 withdrawal deadline, and perhaps 
in the post-election easing of the political constraints, 
Sir Alec took a lesson from the shaikhs and decided to 
contract a study of the problem. He appointed Sir 


William Luce to be his special representative, to 
systematically review the possibility of keeping 
British forces in the Gulf. The final Government 
decision on the matter would then be expected within 

Roy E. Thomas, "The Persian Gulf Region," 
Current History 60 (January 1971) : 43. Also see, 
Neville Brown, "Britain and the Gulf — don't go just yet 
please! The Wisdom of Withdrawal Reconsidered," New 
Middle East 24 (1 September 1970): 44. 


Times (London), 28 July 1970, p. 4. Sir Alec 

also replaced Political Resident Sir Stewart Crawford 
with Assistant Undersecretary of Foreign and Common- 
wealth Affairs, Sir Geoffrey Arthur, at this same 



two months after the Luce report was submitted. 13 

It is difficult to fault the new Foreign Secre- 
tary's choice of Sir William Luce. A man eminently 
qualified, his experience, intelligence and demeanor 
well-suited him for his role as visiting fireman. His 
contacts in the Persian Gulf were formed during his 
days as Political Resident (he served in that capacity 
from 1961-1968). They were for the most part still 
active. He enjoyed the personal respect of each Gulf 
ruler, and his integrity was beyond reproach. 

On the other hand, Sir William had been on 
record strongly opposed to "going back on withdrawal." 
While critical of the timing and method of the original, 
1968 decision, he adamantly believed that it "set cer- 
tain processes in motion . . . /In the Gulf states 
that necessitated/ ending of their status of British 
protected states and therefore of the basis of our 
present political and military position in the Gulf." 
No obstacles to a viable union would be removed by 
prolonging the British role beyond 1971, and there was 

13 Times (London), 28 September 1970, p. 4. 

Karim Shakr, interview, specifically confirmed 
this opinion. For a negative appraisal of the man, see 
Leonard Mosley, Power Plan: Oil in the Middle East 
(New York: Random House, 1973), p. 360. _j 


nothing to prevent a successful union by that dead- ' 
line. 5 When first notified that he was being con- 
sidered for the post, Sir William reminded Sir Alec of 
his publicly stated, personal conviction, and asked if 
in fact the new Prime Minister had changed his views on 
the question. Only after being assured that all 
members of the newly elected Government had "open 
minds" did Luce accept the appointment. 1 ^ 

Not everyone agrees with this official version 
of Sir William's duties. Sir Geoffrey Arthur offered 
the Foreign Office view, that the appointment of a 
special representative was required to supplement the 
efforts of the Gulf Political Resident in effecting the 

^Sir William Luce, "A Naval Force for the 
Gulf: Balancing Inevitable Russian Penetration," 
Round Table 236 (October 1969): 355. 

Sir William Luce, interview, conducted at the 
Bath Club, London, 24 October 1973. The Foreign 
Minister's assertion that policy for withdrawal was 
undecided before Sir William's selection is disputed. 
Alvin J. Cottrell, "Conflict in the Persian Gulf," 
Military Review 51 (February 1971) : 35, maintains that 
the Shah of Iran was specifically assured in June 1970 
by Sir Alec Douglas-Home of the Tory Government's 
intention to be out by the end of 1971. This opinion 
was supported by Gulf expert Mr. Michael Burrell, 
during an interview held in his office at the University 
of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, 
25 October 1973. 



the withdrawal. According to the Under-Secretary, the 
resolution of the Bahrain issue (see Chapter II) had 
been unduly delayed because there was no person in a 
position of responsibility who had the freedom of 
action to expedite the diplomatic maneuvering. The 
remaining issues, especially those with direct inter- 
national ramifications (Abu Musa and Tumbs) , required 
an action-officer to shepherd their resolution in the 
limited time available. ' The Times (London) had 
withheld comment on the governmental ly alleged policy 
review, while editorially encouraging Sir William in 
his "urgent mission" to unite the shaikhdoms. ° Some 
more skeptical, (or perhaps less inhibited ) observers 
considered the first function of the Luce Mission was 
to "report back and make it £i\e. , withdrawal in 
accordance with the 1971 schedule/ look good to the 
Conservative Party." 1 " While most knowledgeable 
students of Gulf affairs perceived the inadvisability 

^Undersecretary for Foreign and Commonwealth 
Affairs, Sir Geoffrey Arthur, in an interview held in 
his office, Whitehall, London, 24 October 1973. He 
was non-commital concerning Sir William's role in 
the withdrawal decision. 

18 Times (London), 3 August 1970, p. 7. 

19 Michael Burrell, interview. 



of further withdrawal delays, Sir William was one of 
the few capable of convincing the Conservative Party, 
in particular its right wing, to reverse their pre- 
election stance. It is this elusive political aspect 
of the Luce appointment which cannot be ignored when 
reviewing the curious evolution of the Conservative 
Government's Gulf policy. 

Sir William Up The Gulf 

Sir William contends that his primary task was 
to study the problem and recommend a proper policy. 
Upon his appointment, he set out for the Middle East, where 
he was cordially received throughout the Gulf and at 
Jidda, Tehran and Cairo. Only in Baghdad was the 
British diplomat snubbed and, in response, that was his 
last attempt to solicit the Iraqi view. 

His initial survey revealed little that was new 
for Sir William. The Bahrainis, "as would any 
sensible people," wanted the best of two worlds. They 
enjoyed the independent status only recently conferred 

^ Times (London) , 18 August 1970, p. 4, and 
23 September 1970, p. 8, report the progress of the 
Luce Mission. The Iraqi experience was directly re- 
lated by Sir William Luce, interview. The Baath 
Government of Iraq refused to meet with him, techni- 
cally because he lacked ministerial rank. 



after the U.N. "ascertainment exercise", but hoped to 
retain an "undefined" Royal Navy or Air Force protec- 
tive umbrella. The Qataris would probably have agreed 
to this, and the Trucial States Rulers expressed the 
desire for some continuing "small British presence" 
in the area. 21 In July. 1970, Dubai's Shaikh Rashid 
averred that 

all the Rulers and people of the Union (of 
Arab Emirates) would support the retention of 
British troops, even though ' . . . they 
would not give a direct answer out of respect 
for the general Arab view'. 2 2 

On the contrary, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran 

vigorously opposed any extension of Britain's special 

relationship in the Gulf. 23 

As Sir William made these initial rounds, his 

reputedly "open minded" (see above p. 91) Conservative 

Government persisted to posture as guardians of the 

O A 

Empire. Sir Alec Douglas-Home declared: "This 

21 Sir William Luce, interview. 

22 Quoted in New Middle East 24 (September 1970) 



Sir William Luce, interview. Also Times 

(London), 28 September 1970, p. 4, reports similar 
though less detailed conclusions. 

24 See Times (London), 14 October 1970, p. 7, 
which reports Sir William's return to the Gulf amid 
government hints that an extension was probable. 



Government has no intention of dropping out ^ahd 
leave the Communists to takeover/ an area where vital 
British interest lie." 25 But the Luce report was 
submitted by November, and it reaffirmed Sir William's 
previous opinions, urging adherence to the Labor 
Government's original guidelines. 

The Policy Change 

The impact of Sir William's recommendation was 
somewhat apparent when Prime Minister Heath, while 
decrying the increase in Soviet naval incursions in 
the area, adopted a more moderate tone in mid-November 
1970. The Prime Minister said simply, "That's why we 
have a special representative discussing with leaders 
in the Gulf how we can help maintain stability in 
the area." 2 ^ Only the month before, in a special 
supplementary Statement on Defense, Heath's own 

25 Quoted in the Times (London) , 10 October 1970, 
p. 4. 

2 ^Sir William Luce, interview, 24 October 1973. 
He did drop his earlier proposal that a permanent 
Royal Navy contingent operate in the Gulf, having been 
enlightened in his official capacity of severe 
financial limitations on such a venture. That sugges- 
tion had been publicly floated in his article, "A 
Naval Force for the Gulf: Balancing Inevitable 
Russian Penetration," pp. 347-356. 

2 ^Quoted in the Times (London) , 17 November 


Ministry had confidently reaffirmed that, "The govern- 
ment is determined to restore Britain's security to 
the high place it must take . . . and make good as 
far as possible the damage of successive defense re- 
views ..." The carriers would stay into the 1970* s 
and forces east of Suez would be increased. 

But the February 1971 White Paper reverted to 
the earlier strong Tory line, promising a British 
naval force in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf, with 
long range reconnaissance squadrons based on Gan and 
Masira islands to counter the "growing Russian naval 
presence in the area."^ At the House of Commons 
hearings on the Defense Review, Lord Balniel, the new 
Minister of State for Defense, also referred to 

the dramatic expansion of the Soviet Navy 
of its modernization, its development in the 
Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean . . . 
Massive military maneuvers on borders, con- 
tinuous and visible naval presence off the 
shores — these things can win win objectives 
almost as valuable as any which can be won 
by direct military aggression .... It can 
make neutralism seem a pleasant soft option. 

1970, p. 4. 

Great Britain, Cmd. 4521, p. 3. 

Great Britain, Ministry 
Defense Review, Cmd. 4 592, p. 6. 

29 Great Britain, Ministry of Defense, The 



Therefore, the Conservative Government was accelerating 

new warship construction to an "unprecedented rate" in 

peacetime. In the Gulf, 

British forces are no longer permanently 
deployed, but we have not severed our 
connections with the area. There will be 
frequent visits by warships, Army units and 
aircraft . . . and a military advisory team 
will remain at Sharjah . . .^° 

Incidently, the Soviet reaction to all this is 
epitomized in an article by V. Zelenin: British troop 
withdrawals are a sham, Britain "has done nothing to 
change the standing of the area east of Suez with 
British imperialism, and there are many facts to show 
that Britain has no intention of giving up her in- 
fluence in this area. "31 

But despite what the Conservatives or the 
Communists said, the die had been cast and things had 
irrevocably changed. Saudi Arabia and Iran had 
initiated extensive military and naval expansion pro- 
grams. Kuwait and Britain had given the required 
three-year notice to terminate their mutual defense 

3°Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary De- 
bates (Commons), vol. 831 (1971): 1311-1317. Techni- 
cally Lord Balniel was premature in stating that 
British forces were out of the Gulf. That would 
actually be effected later in 1971. 

31 "Britain's Maneuvers East of Suez," 


pact of 1961 in May 1968, in accordance with the 

Labor Government's announced withdrawal plans. The 

Conservatives* oft-stated intention to ignore these 

transitions merely distorted the regional accomodation 

to inevitable change by inhibiting the development of 

viable political institutions within and among the 

shaikhdoms. (See previous chapter) . David Holden 

appreciated this fact when he wrote: 

the most unfortunate aspect of the uncertainty 
about British intentions introduced by the 
Conservative Party and Government after 1968 
was the encouragement it offered, until 
March of this year, to Bahrain, Qatar and the 
Trucial Shaikhdoms to postpone firm decisions 
about their own future in the hope that 
Britain might, after all, decide to stay on^ 

Not until 1 March 1971, only nine months before 

the formal departure, did Prime Minister Heath's 

Government officially accept the recommendations in the 

Luce report. Sir Alec went before the Parliament and 

announced that Great Britain would offer a Treaty of 

Friendship, replacing existing agreements, and would 

also assist in the turnover of the Trucial Oman Scouts 

International Affairs (Moscow) , (November 1972) : 45. 

32 Times (London), 19:6, 20 May 1968, p. 32. 

33 "The Persian Gulf: After the British Raj," 
Foreign Affairs 49 (July 1971): 730. 




to the Union Defense Force. Military advisors wOuld 

be made available, with a small team stationed in 

Sharjah to act "in a liaison and training role" for 

British units that planned to periodically use the 

desert facilities. 34 Shadow Cabinet spokesman, Denis 

Healey, sarcastically retorted: 

The opposition welcomes the Right Honorable 
Gentleman's conversion, however belated, 
to the views of the Labour Government, and 
we look forward to further conversions at 
an early date. 35 

The Conducive Milieu 

Sir William's report went beyond his primary 
mission to include a plea for deeper British involve- 
ment in establishing a union of emirates. He deter- 
mined that the deliberate distance maintained by the 
Foreign Office had actually "thrown off" the rulers, 
who had become accustomed to close, open British in- 
volvement in all their important matters. The 
political rationale for the low profile (see Chapter 
III) notwithstanding, the federation was foundering and 
time was running out. 3 ** 

34 Great Britain, Parliament, Parliamentary 
Debates (Commons), vol. 812 (1971): 1228. 

35 Ibid., col. 1230. 

3 Luce, interview. Also the Times (London) , — 


In October 1970, yet another gathering of the 

rulers broke up amid a clamor of mutual recriminations. 

Again the hopes for meaningful progress dissolved as 

Qataris accused Bahrainis of breaking their word on 

previous agreements on capital location, 37 while 

Bahrainis stiffened their demands for inclusion in the 

Union. 38 From Sir William Luce's perspective, the 

chronic quarreling among the shaikhs threatened the 

basic British interest in the future of the Gulf oil 

industry. In 1967, he maintained that the fundamental, 

post-war contribution of Britain's forces in the 

Persian Gulf had been to guarantee the stability 

essential to produce and distribute petroleum. He had 

anticipated the eventual withdrawal of those forces, 

and suggested: 

Our aim should therefore be to do all we 

can to help bring about the sort of condition 

which would enable us to terminate honorably 

14 October 1970, p. 7, reports Sir William's concern 
with the Union's development and resolution of local 
territorial disputes. 

37n The Gulf: Can't Stay, Can't Go," The 
Economist 237 (31 October 1970): 30. 

38 Karim Shakr, interview. Also see Chapter 
III, above for exposition of the impact that the U.N, 
plebescite had on the Bahrain position in the 



our special relationship with the Gulf 
States and to withdraw without undue risk 
to peace and stability. " 

This would require the active concurrence of the 

regional powers. 

That same year, the Fabian Society had asserted 

that "The real need in the Gulf area . . . /was for7 

_additional British political efforts to produce a 

balance of power in the Gulf between Iran, Iraq, 

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait." 40 Luce himself later 

elaborated this theme, writing in 1969, over a year 

before his appointment as Special Representative: 

the most important single contribution to 
peace that Her Majesty's Government could make 
in the Gulf . . . /would be to effect/ an 
understanding between Iran and Saudi Arabia 
regarding the status-quo of the Gulf States 4 - 1 - 

His idea was fundamental. The Economist had drawn 

the practical correlation between the regional powers 

and the federation's faltering: "The breakdown of the 


39n Britain and the Persian Gulf," Round Table 
227 (July 1967) : 280. 

40 "Arabia: When Britain Goes," Fabian Society 
Research Series 259 (London, Fabian Society) , April 
1967, p. 19. 

4 *Sir William Luce, "Britain's Withdrawal from 
the Middle East and the Persian Gulf," Journal of the 
Royal United Services Institute 114 (March 1969) : 




negotiations for a federation could be connected with 
the position Iran has taken: at least one ruler is 

always ready to do what he thinks will please the 

Shah." By the same token, Saudi Arabia's concern 

over the implications that the Federation might have on 
her claim to Buraimi had prompted King Feisal to 
threaten forceful occupation of the oasis once 
Britain withdrew her protection from Abu Dhabi. 43 

Neither Gulf Power's behavior was conducive to 
federating the shaikhdoms and creation of a more 
favorable regional climate had become imperative. 
Accordingly, once his policy recommendations were com- 
pleted and submitted to the Foreign Secretary, Sir 
William began another intense round of international 
negotiations , this time aimed at developing a consen- 
sus on how the stability in the Gulf would be 
achieved. 4 4 Simultaneously, the Foreign Office under- 
took a complete analysis of the disengagement, 

42 "The Gulf: Can't Stay, Can't Go," p. 33. 

43 al-Rai al-Am (Kuwait), 19 May 1970, cited by 
Alvin J. Cottrell, "The United States and the Future 
of the Gulf after the Bahrain Agreement," New Middle 
East 22 (July 1970): 19. 

44 See Times (London) , 9 December 1970, p. 7 
and 20 January 1971, p. 6. The negotiations ensued in 
Jedda, Tehran, Kuwait and London. • 


revitalizing the programs for transfer of functional ' 
responsibilities to include the retrocession of juris- 
dictional responsibilities, the turnover of defense 
forces and equipment, and their extensive consular, 
customs, and administrative services. 4 ^ The British 
hoped to see both approaches coalesce prior to their 
pull-out, producing the regional stability deemed so 
essential to their interests. 

Regional Detente: The Islands 

As with the Bahrain dispute, latent Arab-Irani 
hostilities threatened to erupt over the Persian claim 
to the Gulf islands of Abu Musa and Tunbs. For years 
Iran had argued that these miniscule islands had been 
illegally appropriated by the British and transferred 
to their clients in Sharjah and Ras al-Khaima. No 
longer too weak to defend her own territory, a re- 
vitalized Persia would reassert her sovereignty. The 
Shah personally adopted an increasingly hard line, 
following his compromise on Bahrain. That had been 
a politically unpopular decision and drawn unexpectedly 
severe condemnation from his right-wing power base in 

^Sir William Luce, interview. Details of 
this aspect of the conservative Government's Gulf 
withdrawal will be treated in Chapter IV. 


Iran (See Chapter III) . The Iranian Government 
had to launch a major propaganda effort to convince 
the Persians that Bahrain's loss was necessary. The 
arch-conservative, Pan-Iranian Party was then sup- 
pressed for a year, after rejecting the Shah's con- 

cession. ° 

Perhaps in reaction to this explosive, intan- 
gible element of national pride, the Shah reversed his 
June 1969 statement that "Once the question of Bahrain 
is settled there would be no objection to a federation 
of shaikhdoms. " 4 ? He predicated Tehran's recognition 
of any shaikhly polity on their ascendence to his 
demands. 48 He insisted that was simply a reasonable 
quid pro quo for his relinquishing the Bahrain claim, 
and offered to further conciliate his Arab adversaries 
with substantial financial compensation. ' The 
official rationale for Persia's renewed adamancy over 


4 ^ Times (London) , 16 December 1970 (Special 
Report: Britain and the Gulf) , p. 1. Mr. R. M. 
Burrell also emphasizes this point during an interview 
in his office at the University of London, 25 
October 1973. 

47 Times_ (London), 10 June 1969, p. 11 (Winston 
S. Churchill) . 

48 "The Gulf: Can't Stay, Can't Go," p. 33. 

49 Times (London), 11 May 1971, p. 14 (Dennis , 
Walters) . - 1 


the islands was then declared: "If some nihilist 
power gets hold of the islands, then the consequences 
for the rest of us can be dangerous. Hence the islands 
have to be in safe hands. "50 Apparently the Shah 
concurred with Leonard Mosly's dictum that "... who- 
ever controlled the Tunbs controlled the straits." 51 

In February 1971, Sir William Luce notified the 

Shah that his Government would hold to the 1971 dead- 


line. He did so slightly in advance of the public 
announcement before Britain's Parliament that March. 
This news appeared to satisfy the Shah, but the Persian 
ruler reiterated his own intention to take the islands 
by force should peaceful means fail prior to British 
withdrawal. 52 His strategic defense needs were con- 
sistently cited in justification of his uncompromising 
stance. In June 1971, an Arab guerrilla attack on an 
Israeli-bound tanker at the narrow inlet to the Red 
Sea dramatically illustrated Iran's fears for the Gulf 
and the Shah often referred to this in subsequent 

^Quoted from an interview in the Indian maga- 
zine BLITZ , as reported in Times (London), 29 June 1971, 
p. 7. 

5 Leonard Mosely, Power Play: Oil in the Middle 
East (New York: Random House, 1973), p. 370. 

52 Times (London), 15 February 1971, p. 7. _j 


conversations with the British Representatives. 53 Yet 
most defense experts would agree, as did Sir William, 
that Iranian occupation of the islands were militarily 
superfluous, given the magnitude of the Persian arsenal 
based at Bandar Abbas near the Straits of Hormuz. It 
seemed that the Shah was using this strategic defense 
argument as a vehicle to press what had become a point 
of honor. 54 

Sir William could well sympathize with the Shah's 
dilemma, for he too was captive to a precarious politi- 
cal commitment. His country was not only morally 
obliged to support the Arab claims, she was still 
legally commited to protect her charges in Sharjah and 
> Ras al-Khaima from any foreign encroachments. Both 
British officials and the two shaikhs directly involved 
dreaded the political and economic repercussions of 
losing Arab soil and, not incidentally, its potential 
underlying oil deposits. 55 Yet paradoxically, the 

53 See the New York Times , 15 June 1971, p. 7, 
for report on the incident. 

54 Luce, interview. The Times (London) , 20 May 
1971, p. 6, editorially concludes that the Shah had 
staked his personal prestige on a favorable resolution 
of the islands issue. 

55 Times (London) , 16 December 1970 (Special 
Report: Britain and the Gulf), p. 1. , 


rulers of the other seven shaikhdoms attached little 
importance to the island problem. In part this was due 
to Shaikh Saqr's personal unpopularity^ and they also 
realized that Abu Musa would be successfully negotia- 
ted. As Bahrain's U.N. diplomat, Karim Shakr, 
explained his Government's position, the islands dis- 
pute in no way jeopardized Bahraini integrity. 58 John 
Duke Anthony points out that thirteen of the Arab 
League member states also refused to get involved. 
This left only Iraq, the perennial gadfly, to stand 
with Shaikh Saqr against the Iranians. " Given such 
feeble support for the Arab cause, Sir William en- 
countered a purposeful Shah in his quest for a diplo- 
matic solution to the confrontation considered so 
inemicable to British interests. 

It was from this unenviable bargaining position 

"Luce, interview. 

57 Moseley, Power Play , p. 370. 


Interview. Author Joseph Malone intimates 

Britain's restraint stemmed from a secret arrangement 

made in relation to the U.N. settlement of the Iranian 

claim. See, The Arab Lands of Western Asia (Englewood 

Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Kail, Inc., 1973), p. 241. 

59 John Duke Anthony, "The Union of Arab 
Amirates," Middle East Journal 26 (Summer 1972), 



that Sir William proposed a compromise to the Shah. 
Iranian troops could be stationed on the islands, while 
Arabian sovereignty was left, at least theoretically, 
intact.? The British Government tacitly endorsed 
such an arrangement. Sir Alec Douglas-Home warned a 
May 1971 CENTO gathering in Ankara, "new naval and 
military presences /the Soviets/ are materializing 
round the periphery of the CENTO area are profoundly 
changing the strategic picture." Iranian Foreign 
Minister Zahedi, at the same. meeting, reiterated the 
need for "securing" the islands. ^1 Significantly, 
U.S. Secretary of State Rusk used the same occasion to 

call for "regional states" to take responsibility for 

the Persian Gulf. 

Within two weeks the Iranians responded to the 

encouragement, though more forcefully than had been 

anticipated. Officially protesting the presence of 

British air and naval operations near the "Iranian 

islands" of Abu Musa and Tunbs , Tehran threatened to 

60 Times (London), 15 February 1971, p. 1. 

61 Both quoted in the Times (London), 1 May 1971, 
p. 4. 

62 Ibid. 



fire on any planes that violated its airspace in the 
future. 00 Once again Luce witnessed the raising of 
Arab-Iranian tensions. Kuwait's Al-Rai al-Amm decried 
Iran's use of "force, controversy and domination 
attempts" which the Kuwait Daily News had termed 
"modern piracy."^ 4 

Such realistic criticism reinforced Sir 
William's consistent attempts to convince the Shah that 
a military solution was undesirable. Still, the 
Persian monarch continued to brandish the growing 
Iranian muscle. Quite possibly, he was the victim of 
short-sighted, self-serving advisors, who found it 
expedient to play down any potential Arab reaction. 
Sir William notes that the Shah did not seem to 
appreciate the danger until September 1971, and only 
then did he opt for a compromise on Abu Musa." This 
may explain the sudden shift in the Iranian official 
statements, from being highly critical of Britain's 
sacking for the Arabs to crediting Whitehall as the 
honest broker in seeking a solution to the 

63 Times (London) , 10 May 1971, p. 5. 

64 Cited in Times (London), 2 July 1971, p. 8. 

6 ^Sir William Luce, interview. 



disagreement. 00 It is also instructive to notice that 

Iran's Foreign Minister Zahedi was replaced by Dr. 

Abbus Khalatbari during this same time frame. What- 
ever the cause for conversion, during the waning 
weeks of Britain's presence the Shah evinced a new 
flexibility over the islands issue. 

Often with Gulf politics, tough talk conceals 
accomodations. On 10 November 1971, Foreign Minister 
Khalatbari bluntly denied that Iran would negotiate the 
sovereignty of the islands. ° Sharjah's Ruler, Shaikh 
Khalid agitatedly rejected a proposal that 

affected our sovereignty and demanded selling 
the island, otherwise it would be taken by 
force. Our reply to Luce was that we would 
never give up our sovereignty and right to 
the island. " 

But by mid-November, the Shah and the Shaikh had 

"agreed to disagree" on the sovereignty issue, settling 

on the military occupation compromise first suggested 

by the British ten months earlier. ?0 Sir William, on 

66 Times (London), 5 October 1971, p. 11. 

°^R. M. Burrell, The Persian Gulf (New York: 
Library Press, 1972), p. 44. 

68 Ibid. 

Quoted in the Times (London), 2 November 1971, 
p. 8. 

^ Sir William Luce, interview. —I 


completion of a six-day visit to Tehran, could finally 
say, "Iran and Britain have sorted out their differences 
. . . The shaikhdoms can now form their federation."'! 

Shaikh Khalid probably succumbed to the finan- 
cial inducements: fel.5 million per year from Iran 
until his oil revenues reached £3 million annually, and 
the | promise to share equally in any oil profits derived 
from Abu Musa's territorial waters. In exchange, the 
Iranians were officially welcomed to the island by 
the Ruler on 30 November 1971. 2 Shaikh Saqr, one of 
the wiliest characters in the Gulf, would have gladly 
accepted a similar disposition, but never had the 
chance. Instead, his islands fell to a Persian force 
majeure. Contradicting widespread reports that the 
irrascible old Shaikh's quixotic nostalgia for the 
ancient Qawasim glories combined with a futile hope 
for an oil strike had prompted his obdurate stance, 7 ^ 

^Quoted in the Times (London) , 18 November 
1971, p. 7. 

72 Times (London) , (Speical Report on the UAE) , 
21 December 1971, p. 1. 

73 See Mosley, Power Play , pp. 369-371. Also 
Times (London) (Special Report on the UAE) , 21 
December 1971, p. I. Michael Burrell, interview, con- 
curs with this explanation. 



Sir William maintains that Saqr "bent over backwards" 
to forestall the clash. It was the Shah who "dug his 
heels," convinced to the end that the Tunbs were un- 
questionably Iranian. ^^ Several observers have implied 
since that there was British collusion in the Iranian 
invasion of the islands, but most fell short of 
Leonard Mosley. He alleged a Luce-Saqr conspiracy to 

effect a face-saving martyrdom of the police unit 

assigned to defend the Tunbs. Sir William convin- 
cingly states that he warned Shaikh Saqr to remove his 
men from harm's way, ° and can only wonder at what 
Britain had to gain by the inevitable bloodshed that 
ensued. A more likely explanation is that Saqr had 
overcommited himself to resist, and risked his men to 
complete the scenario of the latter-day Grecian 
tragedy. 77 There can be no doubt however that Shaikh 

'^Sir William Luce, interview. Mr. A. Reeve, 
interview, added that Shaikh Saqr could have accepted 
financial compensation equal to that given Shaikh 
Khahid, but Iran would not consider even a tacit 
recognition of Res al Khamir's claim to sovereignty. 


Leonard Mosley, Power Play , pp. 372-373. 

7 °Sir William Luce, interview. 

'According to Sir William Luce, interview, 
Saqr's refusal to withdraw his forces cost the lives of 
one Arab policeman and three Iranian naval 
personnel. I 


Saqr "gained from the propaganda portraying him as 
a quasi-martyr for refusing to the end to concede the 
right of Iran to occupy a part of the Arab homeland." 78 

Considering Iran's military capacity and her oft- 
expressed intention to use it to secure the islands, 
the question of Britain's role in the Tunbs occupa- 
tion becomes at best academic. At Persopolis in 
October 1971, the world witnessed an unprecedented 
display of Iranian opulence. The ostensible purpose 
for the controversial celebration had been to commemor- 
ate the twenty-fifth centennial of the Persian Empire. 
The fact that the dignitaries assembled nine years after 
the logical birthday, the anniversary of the capture 
of Babylon, and two months before Britain's withdrawal, 
provides the clue to the real purpose for the soiree. 
The Shah was parading his power and, as The Economist 
added, "... the demonstration of power is generally 
followed by the use of it." 79 Britain's emissary had 
arranged the Abu Musa settlement and, once he failed 
to persuade the Shah to compromise on Tunbs, the 

78 Anthony, p. 2 85. 


"After Persopolis," The Economist 241 

23 October 1971) : 15-16. 



British no longer played an active role in high Gulf 
politics. After the Iranians took the island the 
official spokesman for Her Majesty's Government 
apologized meekly, protesting that his country "could 
hardly be expected to exercise her treaty responsi- 
bilities on the final day." 80 The torch had been 
passed, and, as Sir William Luce himself once saw fit 
to put down, "to fill a power vacuum effectively re- 
quires the ultimate sanction of some degree of military 
power." 81 

Regional Detente — The Arabs 

No such logical rationalization is possible when 
describing Britain's policy or part in resolving the 
other international claim to the shaikhdoms ' land, that 
which centered on the Buraimi oasis. (See Chapter I, 
pp. 13-15 ) Unlike the islands dispute, where the 
inherent dangers in an Arab-Persian conflict was 
obvious and the utility of British mediation defined, 
Buraimi was deeply enmeshed in the matrix of Arabian 

p. 1. 


Quoted in the Times (London), 1 December 1971, 

81 "Britain's Withdrawal from the Middle East 
and the Persian Gulf," p. 6. 



peninsular politics. The issue involved traditional ~~T 
rivalries and oil profits, always an explosive combi- 
nation. Yet the days when Britain could impose even 
the status-quo were over. 

On the other hand, the Buraimi oasis problem 
could not be ignored. In May 1970, King Feisal had 
unexpectedly renewed his claim, demanding a plebescite 
and several territorial adjustments affecting large 
tracts of Abu Dhabi territory. 82 Abu Dhabi's Ruler, 
Shaikh Zayd, was born at Buraimi and was governor of the 
area when last the Saudis pressed their claim in the 
1950' s. He had vowed "at all costs to hold onto it," 
and indeed this was the raison d'etre for his im- 
pressive Abu Dhabi Defense Force. A massive experi- 
mental project sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Department 
of Agriculture had already transformed "the whole 
character" of the oasis, in mute testimony to Shaikh 
Zayd's intransigence. 84 The personal animosity 

82 Times (London) 16 July 1970, p. 4. 

^"Countdown for a Federation," The Economist 
(Special Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) 235 ( 6 June 
1970): 34. The Economist shared Shaikh Zayd's view 
that Buraimi was essential to his state. 

84 See J. H. Stevens, "Changing Agricultural 
Practices in an Arabian Oasis," The Geographical 
Journal 136, (September 1970): 410-413. 



mutually shared by the two Arab Rulers exacerbated 

the seemingly irreconcilable situation, and had been 
reinforced most recently during Shaikh Zayd's "dis- 
asterous visit" to King Feisal's court in May 1970. 85 

Epitomizing their Government's new Gulf role, 
Sir William Luce and his colleagues could only propose 
compromise. They hoped somehow to avoid what would be 
a catastrophic confrontation. The British suggested a 
plan to provide Saudi Arabia an access strip of land 
to the sea for a pipeline corridor between Qatar and 
Abu Dhabi. 00 They then tried tirelessly to persuade r 
King Feisal to drop his demands which threatened to 
finish the oil rich shaikhdom of the Bani Yas and, 
with it, any hopes for a union of the other emirates. 

Some writers have linked the Buraimi dispute 

with a British-engineered palace coup in nearby Oman. 

There in July 1970, the thirty-year-old son of Said bin 

85 Times (London) (Special Report: Britain and 
the Gulf), 16 December 1970, p. I, (A. M. Rendel) . 

86 Times (London), 28 September 1970, p. 4. 

87 See Leonard Mosley, Power Play , pp. 362- 
368, for a colorful account of the coup. He errors in 
assigning a major role to Sir William Luce . Besides 
Luce was only appointed as Special Emissary to the 
Gulf after the events in Oman had run their course. 


Taimer replaced his father as Sultan, alledgedly 

instigated by Britain to facilitate a peaceful Buraimi 

settlement. This view overemphasizes and incorrectly 

isolates the oasis conflict, $h e Omani action was 

taken in a much wider context. Internal security in 

Muscat and Oman apathetically medieval sultanate with 

borders inextricably mixed with the Trucial States, had 

deteriorated so much that overall regional stability 

was threatened. (See Chapter IV) . Five days before 

the overthrow, The Economist declared: 

The Government can no longer afford to shut 
its eyes to the dangers of the situation in 
Muscat. The Sultan and his advisors will 
have to be persuaded to go before it is too 
late for an alternative ruler to hold the 
country together. 89 

Just as the conflicting Abu Musa and Tunbs claims had 
to be resolved before Great Britain's withdrawal, the 
creation of a viable political structure in the Gulf 
also necessitated correcting the Omani aberation. 

88 See G. L. Bondarevskiy , "The Continuing 
Western Interest in Oman as Seen from Moscow," New 
Middle East 35 (August 1971): 14. 

89 "Sir Alec Up the Gulf," The Economist 236 
(18 July 1970) : 14-15. Iranian Foreign Minister Zahedi 
called for the replacement of the Sultan of Oman, who, 
like Shakhbut in Abu Dhabi a few years before, was 
obstructing necessary reforms. Times (London), 13 
April 1970, p. 4. 


Britain had a distinct role to play in each of these 

settlements, but Burairai was integrally bound up in 

the Arab order. British officials could advise and 

even assist in its working-out, but they could not 
resolve it. Instead, the Burairai dispute was absorbed 
in the more basic problem, forming indigenous govern- 
mental institutions in the shaikhdoms that could accept 
the British mantle. Accordingly, Britain directed her 
subsequent efforts toward establishing those successor 

90 Times (London), 11 February 1971, p. 12. 
(Paul Martin) reports King Faisal's willingness to 
drop the Buraimi claim in exchange for the coopera- 
tion of the nine rulers in forming a federation. 




The two major British political parties had 
participated, both as the Opposition and as the Govern- 
ment, in Britain's withdrawal from the Persian Gulf. 
Each influenced events uniquely, sometimes reinforcing 
but oftimes diminishing the diplomatic implementation of 
stated British policies. Foreign Office initiatives 
could never be divorced from the influences of domestic 
politics but, with the relatively apolitical turnover of 
Britain's governmental responsibilities in the Gulf, the 
diplomats could and did execute the actual exchange of 
duties. In the Fall of 1970, Sir William Luce recommen- 
ded that Whitehall intensify the British effort in 
assisting the federation of Gulf Emirates. A project 
analysis was undertaken to decide the scenario for com- 
pleting the withdrawal process by 1971. Practical goals 
were identified, specific tasks defined and priorities 
assigned. Those governmental agencies expected to assume 
once-British functions were identified, and the need to 
create certain replacement institutions was 

119 _l 


established. 1 ' ~f 

The Federation Founders 

But the success of this ambitious if belated 
scheme to systematize the withdrawal was predicated upon 
the existence of one or more successor states, to take over 
from) the British, yet this was by no means assured. As 
late; as February 1971, British officials in the Gulf 
were reportedly "in despair" at the lack of progress 
toward a union of shaikhdoms, and an ominous pessimism 
even pervaded Arab circles. Radio Cairo had consistently 
agitated against the British presence, reflecting 
Egyptian suspicions that the Conservative Government in- 
tended to remain. As late as October 1970, it proclaimed 
the need for a workable federation to deny Britain any 
excuse for maintaining troops on Arab soil. But by 
February 1971, the "Voice of the Arabs" program was 

^The Project Manager, then Trucial States Desk 
Officer, Mr. Anthony Reeve, discussed this specific 
approach to expediting the withdrawal during an inter- 
view in his British Embassy office, Washington, D.C., 1 
October 1973. Patrick Bannerman, Middle East expert in 
the Foreign Office Research Department confirmed this 
during the interview held at his Whitehall office, 
London, 25 October 1973. 

Times (London), 11 February 1971, p. 11. 


reduced to arguing that "total or partial withdrawal 
from the region ought not to be carried out while the 
region is divided." Cairo recognized that shaikhly 
accord would serve the Arab cause, but the Rulers could 
not accomodate their own diversity when allocating power 
within a federation. This was the same obstacle that 
had stymied the renowned Egyptian lawyer, Dr. Mohammad 
Sanhuri Pasha, who had tried to propose some kind of 
Union constitution since being hired for the job by the 
Federation of Arab Emirates in July 196 8. 

On his initial fact-finding trip to the Gulf in 
August 1970, Special Envoy Luce perceived the sources of 


discord inherent in uniting the nine emirates . Although 
both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait wanted to see only one, 
Arab successor state, Sir William recognized the basic 
incompatibility between the larger and more sophisticated 
shaikhdoms and their more primitive neighbors. This 
conflict epitomized the traditional distain and distrust 
that existed between city merchants and desert Bedouin, 

3 Quoted by D. C. Watt, "The Arabs, the Heath 
Government and the Future of the Gulf," New Middle East 
30 (March 1971) : 26-27. 

4 Times (London), 8 July 1968, p. 4. Sanhuri 
authored Kuwait's constitution following Britain's 
withdrawal there. 



rich and poor, and within the tribal societies of the 
Gulf. But the British Special Envoy also realized the 
need to accomodate the views of Riyadh and Kuwait. They 
wanted only one new Arab state in the Gulf and, without 
their approval, no shaikhly polities left by Britain 
could long survive her withdrawal. 

Accordingly, British efforts to foster an 
emirate union were coordinated with those of the two 
Arab powers. A joint Saudi-Kuwaiti mission to help 
forge a federation of nine shaikhdoms was formed at the 
British behest in August 1970. Together, the Anglo- 
Arab mediation teams urged the Rulers to accept a single 
defense force, union financing on a per-capita income 
basis, centralized developmental program management and 
uniform customs and tariffs. A plan for federal repre- 
sentation was also devised, wherein Sir William Luce 
proposed to seat six delegates from Bahrain, Qatar, Abu 
Dhabi and Dubai, to every four from Sharjah, Umm al 
Quwain and Fujaira respectively. This raised much local 
interest but, although vigorous consultations proceeded 

Sir. William Luce, interview held at the Bath 
Club, London, 24 October 1973. 

6 Times (London), 11 February 1971, p. 12 (Paul 
Martin) . 

Ibid., Also Karim Shakr, Second Secretary of theJ 


for months, even this concerted diplomatic offensive 
eventually dissolved in the familiar caldron of emirate 

Blame for the Anglo-Arab failure to move the 
rulers has been ascribed to both parties. Saudi 
Arabia's Prince Nawaf and Kuwait's Shaikh Sabah al Ahmed, 
co-leaders of their joint mission, allegedly displayed 
a condescending arrogance toward the eimirs . Most ob- 
servers debate only the degree to which this complicated 
the already sensitive negotiations. Sir William Luce 
claimed that the Arab envoys had transformed two prob- 
lems, capital location and assembly composition, into 


seven. Shaikh Rashid al Makhtoum agreed that "Before 
the mission set out there were only two obstacles to 
federation . . ./but after the Sauid-Kuwaiti assis- 
tance/ now there are eleven." The Dubai ruler also 
expressed his disappointment with British officials a 
month later. Complaining when the Tories announced 
that they would adhere to the 1971 withdrawal deadline, 

Bahrain Permanent Mission to the United Nations, inter- 
' view at his office, New York, 25 September 1973. 


Sir William Luce, interview. 

9 Quoted in the Times (London), 11 February 1971, 
p. 12. 


Raschid revealed: 


I am prepared to be frank with them; but 
they come along at times and say 'this is our 
decision' and you are not given any opportunity 
to express your own views. ^ 

The British diplomats assigned to the Gulf might legiti- 
mately echo these sentiments - were they not professional- 
ly constrained from doing so. As the previous chapters 
described, they were themselves surprised by H. M. 
Government on several occasions. 

Finding fault was easier than forming a federation, 
and serious fissures began to appear in the foundation 
laid in 1968. Ras al Khaima's, enigmatic Shaikh Saqr 
hinted darkly that he might bring the four smallest 
shaikhdoms under the rule of the Sultan of Muscat: "Our 
passports do not say 'Ras al Khaimal' They say Oman 
. . . we may find that the future of Oman and Omanis 
lies there." The Times reported that Abu Dhabi, Qatar 

10 Times (London), 3 March 1971, p. 6. 

^Quoted in the Times (London) , 11 February 1971, 
p. 12. Patrick Bannerman, of the Foreign Office Research 
Department noted that while Saqr's remarks make geogra- 
phical sense, the extended British relationship in the 
Trucial States had made any such union politically in- 
feasible, interview. Also see, J. C. Wilkinson, "The 
Oman of South-East Arabia," The Geographical Journal 139 
(September 1971): 361-371. 



and Dubai's Shaikh Raschid lent credence to these re- 
ports castigating the Bahrainis for their intransigence, ,, 
and adding that "they simply don't want a union." 12 
Still, Gulf savants tended to discount the possibility 
of Qatar voluntarily diluting her independence in any 
sized union without a corresponding gesture from 
Bahrain. Most agreed with Shaikh Raschid 's opinion of 
Bahrain's commitment to federate, but fully expected the 
regimes in Manama and Doha to remain unfettered. 

In point of political fact, Bahrain's Shaikh Isa 
lad no option. Despite his desire to appease the 
Saudis, his public opinion solidly opposed joining any 
but a Bahrain-dominated union. That was clearly un- 
acceptable to the other eight shaikhdoms. As one corres- 
pondent wrote, "A contrary decision /by Shaikh Isa7 
would almost certainly have landed his government in an 
upsurge of unrest or worse . . .**■* In view of the 
impasse, Sir William Luce forced a decision from the 
Arabs . 

April 1971, finally saw a Bahraini mission 

12 Luce, interview. Also see Times (London) , 
20 May 1971, p. 6. 

Times (London) (Special Report: Bahrain) , 16 
December 1971, p. I. (A. M. Rendel) . Also Karim 
Shakr, interview. 



dispatched to the Riyadh court 'to give King Feisal the 
news he dreaded: there would be no federation of nine. 14 


It was a difficult assignment for the delegation. 
Themselves dependent on Saudi crude oil to feed their 
BAPCO refinery, the Bahrainis had every incentive to 
appease their benefactor. Both traditional custom and 
realistic politics tightened that economic bond. There- 
fore, when the head of the House of Saud requested that 
they defer publicizing the break for yet another un- 
specified interval, the delegates were disheartened. 
They knew there could be no turning back, and any delay 
would surely prove an unpleasant limbo. The Bahrainis 
ultimately convinced King Feisal of their precarious 
position, mixing impassioned entreaties and reasoned 
arguments. Only then did the King consent to limit the 
span to eight weeks. 5 

The Al Khalifa emissaries used that time to 
solicit support from the al Sabah in Kuwait. Family 
ties and a common interest in prolonging traditional 
rule in the region encouraged alliance between the two 


Sir William Luce had preempted them by a matter 

of days, but Feisal refused to concede the failure then. 

(See Chapter Three, p. , footnote 89) . 


Sir William Luce, interview. 



most: populous Gulf shaikhdoms. ' Great Britain shared 
their stake in mutual security and tacitly approved the 
venture. Her Majesty's diplomats discerned no threat 
to postwithdrawal stability in an independent Qatar, the 
economically secure Wahabi state contiguous with Saudi 
Arabia, but the seven Trucial States needed help* 
Accordingly , the Foreign Office devoted its efforts to 
resuscitating their Union, while the Saudis evinced a 
benign if haughty neglect of subsequent shaikhly 
affairs. 16 Sir William Luce pressed to remove the 
Iranian obstacle raised with the islands dispute (See 
Chapter Three) and Sir Geoffry' Arthur accelerated the 
turnover of functional responsibilities. ' 

The Retrocession of Legal 
Jurisdiction * 

The Anglo-Saxon addiction to legalistic precision 

spawned the most complicated project for the Political 

1 Times (London), 20 May 1971, p. 6. Also see 
"The Gulf: If 1 Not Nine, Maybe Seven," The Economist 
239 (12 June 1971): 40. 

1 Sir Geoffry Arthur, Under-Secretary for 
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, interview held at his 
Whitehall office, London 24 October 1973. 

*This phrase was uniformly used by British sources to 
describe the process described below. 



Residency, the retrocession of jurisdiction in the 
Gulf. Through that office, Britain had exercised legal 
authority over Commonwealth Moslems and all non-Moslems 
in the protectorates. An intricate matrix of laws, 
legal precedents and commercial codes had evolved and 
been integrated into each shaikhdom's individual Sharia 
system. In effect, the Rulers had surrendered certain 
sovereign rights to Great Britain, an anachronistic 
legacy that was already being rectified by progressive 
British officials prior to the 1968 announcement. But 
the resumption of emirate legal perogatives was an 
agonizingly slow process. Suitable courts had to be 
established, procedural codes drawn up, and previous 
judgments (reached under the British judiciary) vali- 
dated. Most laws were retroceded by one major 
exception was - Qatar. There, following her premature 
declaration of imminent independence in September 1971, 

British jurisdiction over Pakistani Moslems (as a social 

class) was passed to Doha's auspices. 

Retrocession proceded in a piecemeal, often 

tedious sequence. Each ruler's legal advisor, an Arab 

but not always a native of the shaikhdom concerned, 


Sir Geoffry Arthur, interview. 




would draft a tentative replacement law for one cover- 
ing a similar legal aspect under the British court. 

This would then be submitted in Arabic to British 

officials for review. The law would be translated 

and its workability assessed. Then the appropriate 
shaikh would be advised of any necessary amendments. 
Britain conceived of her role as advisory and not 
approbatory, attempting to build in safeguards against 
abuses of the new and untried regulations. Since the 
legal innovations would also have to conform with inter- 
national standards, British advice and experience was 
especially useful. The issue of capital punishment, 
abolished in the United Kingdom but very much in the 
Moslem legal tradition, also posed a difficult challenge 
to British counselors seeking to balance the desert's 
harsh justice with more modern penal moderation. In 
all cases, once Anglo-Arab concert was achieved, the 
Political Resident on Bahrain would announce his "find" 
and publish what was termed a Queen's Regulation. This 
notified those concerned that a specific British juris- 
diction would cease by a certain date, usually two 

^Originally by the Foreign Office, but as the 
volume increased, this was contracted to a commercial 
firm in Beirut. 





months later. u ' 

The timeliness of this legal turnover varied with 
each state. In Bahrain, a legislative committee under 
the able Hussein al Bahama and Said Jassim al Arayadh 
drew on Kuwaiti and Egyptian precedents to enact a 

sophisticated follow-on system. x In Qatar, where 

Sharia Law prevailed exclusively, retrocession of juris- 
diction was completed only the day before independence, 
with more than a degree of "undue haste." The Politi- 
cal Residency in the Gulf had conducted what were in 
effect the final Capitulation Courts on earth, and the 
successful retrocession of legal jurisdiction carried 
profound and historic implications. 

The Shaikhdoms Assume Responsibility 

for Their Foreign Affairs - 

Transferring Britain's conduct of foreign affairs 
on behalf of her Protectorates, also of significant 
moment in the wider context of Middle East history, was 

°Mr. Anthony Reeve, former Foreign Office 
Trucial States Desk Officer (1970-1972) , interview held 
at his British Embassy Office, Washington, D.C., 1 
October 1973. 

Times (London) (Special Report: Bahrain) , 16 
December 1971, p. II, (W. M. Ballantyne) . 


Sir Geoffry Arthur, interview. 



less exacting a process. This imprecision related more 
to the activity being exchanged than to the actors in- 
volved in the process. As elsewhere in the functional 
turnover, the pace varied with the shaikhdom's relative 
political development. 

All fell short of Bahrain, where a department of 
foreign affairs had been formed late in 19b8. It 
operated under the title of "Special Office" until the 
island's independence. Prospective foreign service 
officers were sent to observe' diplomatic posts in 
Kuwait, Cairo and Cyprus (another independent island 
state with a potent national minority) , and to the head- 
quarters of the Arab League. Other Bahrainis acquired 
field experience through actual service in Kuwaiti and 
Saudi Arabian embassies. Significantly, this program 
was not prompted by the British advisors , but was 
"strictly a domestic initiative. "" 

This manifests an essential change in foreign 
policy perspectives and objectives for the shaikhdoms. 
Where British interests had previously influenced 
positions taken and procedures followed in Gulf foreign 


Karim Shakr, interview. Patrick Bannerman, 

interview confirmed this from the British side. 



affairs, henceforth Arab ends would be paramount. 24 The 
Foreign Office accepted this and made no effort to 
"create bodies for administrative staffs for the 
/shaikhdoms ' J foreign offices." Britain did render 
assistance in more technical, consular and international, 
areas. Joining the United Nations, affiliating with the 
World Bank and participating in the World Health Organi- 
zation were uniformly accomplished by the shaikhdoms 
under British guidance. Her Majesty's expertise was less 

effective in handing over consular affairs. That ranged 

from "smooth" in Bahrain - " to chaotic in the Union of 

Arab Emirates, where the time-honored "No Objection 

Certificate" was going for about fifty Bahraini Dinars by 

mid-1971. 26 

Governmental Institutions 

Other British-inspired governmental institutions 
received similar short shrift, as the Arabs showed an 

2 Phillip Griffen, Charge d' Affairs at the Ameri- 
can Embassy to the Union of Arab Emirates, in an inter- 
view held at the U.S. Department of State, Washington, 
D.C., 17 August 1973, acknowledged that this "complete 
break" in the conduct of foreign policy occurred after 
the Treaty System ended. 

2 ^Karim Shakr, interview. 

^This reflected both inexperience and nascent 
corruption within the system. _j 


increasing tendency to discard rather than transform the^ 
old structures. The Trucial States Council, since 1965 s 
earmarked by the British as the nucleus for local self- 
government, was simply replaced by the Federation's 
Supreme Council in 1968. Despite assurances from Union 
President, Shaikh Zayd, to maintain and utilize the 
experienced staff of the Trucial States Development 
Office, its operating funds trickled to a stop and its 
highly competent staff personnel were forced to seek 
employment elsewhere. 27 Viewed by the Arabs as pri- 
marily a British agency, the Rulers had allowed its 


functions to be absorbed by a variety of Union 


Britain's waning influence was also apparent in 

the economic realm. For years her Commercial Officers 

in the Gulf had advocated the creation of a common 

currency to replace the Qatar-Dubai Riyal and Bahrain 

Dinar (BD1=QR10 and BDl=US$2 .11) . This advice was 

27 Ibid. 


Patrick Bannerman, interview. 

29 United States Department of State, Background 
Notes ; United Arab Emirates , Department of State Pub. 
no. 7901 rev. (1972), p. 3. 



apparently accepted by the nine rulers, who appointed ' 
Qatar to supervise development of a federal monetary 


system in the early stages of the federation. But 
later, not only was the dual currency criticized by 
Arab fiscal authorities, but representative voices 
in Gulf financial circles began to question even the 
sterling linkage to any Union specie. Both the Dinar 
and the Riyal were bound to the Pound under identical 
regulations, and the same economic dislocations that 
forced Britain * s withdrawal were aggravating the already 
rampant inflation in the oil-booming Gulf. By 1971, the 
outmoded and inadequate dual currency system could only 
account for one-third of the total money and ten per- 
cent of the total economic assets or liabilities within 
the Union. Still, British advisors could not persuade 
the Trucial State rulers to meet even the minimum need 
for a currency and credit board endowed with the 
"urgently needed powers of a central banking institution 
to cope with pressing problems. " J ^ Each Ruler hoarded 

30 Times (London), 4 June 1968, p. 5. 

31 Times (London), 10 June 1969, p. 16, (Hazim 
Chalabi) . 

32 Times (London) (Special Report: Union of Arab 
Emirates), 21 December 1971, p. Ill, (Adnan B. Mahhouk) . 


his wealth and jealously guarded financial perogatives. 
Shaikh Raschid of Dubai, where the banks were "almost 
an unpaid arm of the State" because there was no state 

office of finance, was the most ardent proponent of 

fiscal autonomy. His shaikhdom helped mint one of the 

two coins of the realm. Classically illustrating the 
political implications of the coinage issue, Shaikh 
Raschid drew on all his renowned cunning to frustrate 
the trend toward commercial unity. 

British council was consistently rejected across 
the economic spectrum, as the Rulers regressed into 
familiar behavior patterns that placed a premium on 
status symbols instead of coordinated industrial develop- 
ment. The fate of the Trucial States Development Office 
portended a wasteful race to duplicate prestige facili- 
ties. Four fully-equipped, modern international airports 
(at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain, with Sharjah 
planning yet another) were in operation before the 
Treaty System ended. Two major port development projects 
underway in Bahrain and Dubai were economically defensible. 


Financial Times 16 December 1971, p. 13 
(Richard Johns) . Also see Michael Field's article titled 
Rivalry between states leads to lack of cooperation and 
wasteful development," Times (London) (Special Report), 
16 December 1970, p. III. 


These were being matched at immense cost by Sharjah and 
Abu Dhabi, both of which were economically superfluous 
and only indirectly related to and not needed for the 
shipment of oil. A Saudi Arabian cement plant could 
have been expanded to meet regional requirements, but 
Qatar, Dubai and Ras al Khaima elected to build their 
own. | Abu Dhabi planned to follow suit. 34 This same 
imitative propensity led Qatar to prepare a feasibility 
study on a $100 million aluminium plant within a year of 
her independence. Bahrain was already producing 120,000 
tons of aluminium a year from its Aluminium Bahrain 
(ALBA) smelters (British companies are major shareholders 
in ALBA) , and the paucity of human resources in Qatar 
simply compounded the folly in planning such labor- 
intensive industries. 5 Obviously, more than British 
diplomats were needed to instill the Gulf nabobs with the 
political acumen and will to coordinate expenditures and 
effect necessary development. 

London's diminishing influence also affected 

34 Times (London) (Special Report) , 16 December 
1970, p. III. (Michael Field) . Qatar, Ministry of In- 
formation, Qatar into the Seventies 1973, pp. 115-139 and 
also UAE, Ministry of Information, UAE First Anniversary 
1972 , pp. 26-27. 

35 Times (London), 15 May 1972, p. 1. For facts 
on ALBA see "Industry," Middle East Sketch (15 December 


British trade relationship with the Gulf states. Once 
compliant Shaikhs dealt daily with their British ad- 
visors, who steadily provided information and contracts. 
Diplomatic and commercial attaches supplied British 
businessmen what London's Chamber of Commerce 
euphemistically termed "invaluable guidance and assis- 
tance." 36 Naturally, Whitehall sought to offset the 
loss of that implicit advantage in her "special relation- 
ship," and to devise some formula for prolonging her 
local economic predominance. Efforts to "continue some 
exceptional British connection were hampered, however, 
by the general reluctance of the Shaikhs to make basic 
commitments toward federation. In 1968, the rulers 
established a Committee for Customs and Trade and inacted 
a provision barring approval of its recommendations 
until the Union was formed. This prolonged the dual 
currencies and five separate tariff scales that, in 
themselves, inhibited the steps to federation. The 
Catch 22 predicament precluded negotiations which might 

1972) : 21-28. 

3*> A Survey for Businessmen; States of the Arabian 
Gulf (London: Chamber of Commerce, 1969) , p. 6. 

3 ^Times_ (London) (Special Report) , 16 December 
1970, p. Ill, (Michael Field). 


have transformed Britain's beneficial entre to the Gulf ' 
markets under the Treaty System to one consistent with 
the fully independent status of the new Arab states . 

This also coincided with the rulers' growing re- 
calcitrance toward any foreign manipulation. Even during 
withdrawal, British business interests had to. fend for 
themselves in a highly competitive environment. As the 
Washington Post put it: 

/The/ Persian Gulf governments, once door- 
mats of the multinational business world, /were7 
rapidly changing not only their own societres 
but also the structure of the international oil 
trade . . ." 38 

In response, Britain's relative portion of the 

import and export markets of Qatar and the Trucial 

States had dropped, 9 though in Bahrain she maintained 

her proportional domination. This difference springs 

38 Washington Post , 22 July 1973, p. Cl, (Jim 
Hoagland) . 

39 Qatar, Ministry of Information, Qatar into the 
Seventies 1973, pp. 115-139, and UAE, Ministry of In- 
formation, UAE First Anniversary 1972, pp. 26-27, and 
pp. 7-10. The Financial Times , 2 5 April 1972, p. 25. 
Also see A Survey for Businessmen; States of the 
Arabian Gulf , pp. 30, 33, 35, and the Times (London) 
(Special Report: Britain and the Gulf) , 16 December 

See Bahrain, Ministry of Information, The State 
of Bahrain (1971), p. 19. Also The Financial Times , 25 
April 1972, p. 25, for statistics. 



more from the maturity and diversification of Bahrain's 
commerce than any adroit British maneuvering during 
withdrawal. In 1969, Her Majesty's Export Credits 
Guarantee Department rated the tiny shaikhdom as high as 
any nation "in the third world and the £53 million cover 
given for the (ALBA) smelter was the highest for any 
-single project." Thus Britain's economic edge in 
Bahrain, as in the other eight shaikhdoms , was simply a 
function of her long business experience in the Gulf. 
This was not an overly significant advantage given the 
nature and rapidity of change in that marketplace. 


Security Affairs 

Whitehall's marginal performance in the economic 
sphere can be somewhat justified given the customary 
passivity of the Foreign Office in strictly commercial 
affairs. On the other hand, Gulf stability had been the 
raison d'etre for the British military presence, and its 

Financial Times , 25 April 1972, p. 25. (Richard 
Johns) . For details on the Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) pro- 
ject see "Industry: Industrial diversification," 
Middle East Sketch 1 (15 December 1972) : 21-26. 
Significantly, both interviews with U.S. Charge d' Affairs 
Griffin and Foreign Office Research expert Bannerman 
brought out the critical shortage of trained people 
throughout the shaikhdoms and in particular within the 
Union of Arab Emirates. 



continuance was the practical objective of the British ~^ 
withdrawal policy. Achieving that would be no mean 


feat. Volatile economic, educational and political 
disparities abounded. The Middle East's Arab-Israeli 
conflict spilled over most tangibly, as 100,000 uprooted 
Palestinians lived along the Arab shores of the Persian 
Gulf, 42 and more subtly in its disquieting impact on 

popular Arab attitudes toward western national and 

commercial interests. Accordingly, Whitehall harness- 
ed its considerable talents and experience to bequeath 
an effective security force for the shaikhdoms . 

General Willoughby's report had established the 

42 This figure was obtained from panelist Dr. 
Hirsham Sharabi's individual comment, The Gulf: Implica - 
tions of British Withdrawal (Washington, D.C.: George- 
town University Center for Strategic International 
Studies, 1969), p. 21. Alvin J. Cottrell, "Conflict in 
the Persian Gulf," Military Review 51 (February 1971): 
40, tacitly acknowledges this inter-relationship of 
Palestine and the Gulf, noting that "the political 
acceptability of a U.S. presence or even visits in the 
Gulf must increasingly be measured in relationship to the 
U.S. position in the Arab-Israeli conflict." 

For a further exposition see the testimony 
of Mr. Lee Dinsmore, U.S. Consul General of Dahran, 
Saudi Arabia, and U.S. representative to the Gulf 
shaikhdoms and Oman during the British withdrawal period, 
contained in the U.S. Congress, House, Committee on 
Foreign Affairs, U.S. Interests in and Policy Toward 
the Persian Gulf, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the 
Near East , 92nd Congress 2nd session, 1972, pp. 107-133. 



ground rules for this aspect of withdrawal, stressing 
the threat of internal subversion and prescribing that 


the Trucial Oman Scouts (T.O.S.) "become the nucleus of 
the Union's armed forces."* 4 As noted in Chapter Two, 
most of the rulers insisted on erecting individual 

armies. In Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain the Order of 

battle quickly surpassed the modest levels envisioned 

by Vfilloughby. The Shaikhs' apprehension over 
British withdrawal was almost palpable, as they antici- 
pated the loss of insulating foreign troops with its 
concomitant domestic and international ramifications . 

The most volatile shaikhdom, Bahrain, had been 
the scene of an ti -Government riots in 1956 and 1966, 
and more serious disruptions were in store (March 1972). 
Iraqi-backed subversives, particularly among the 

Shi'ite elements in the politically sensitized labor 

class, made the island a "hotbed of radicalism." 

John Duke Anthony, "The Union of Arab Amirates," 
M iddle East Journal 26 (Summer 1972) : 274. 

45 R. Beasley, "The Vacuum that Must be Filled — the 
Gulf and Iran's Military Potential Assessed," New Middle 
32 (May 1971) : 38. Also see UAE, Ministry of Informa- 
tion, United Arab Emirates: First Anniversary (2 
December 1972) , pp. 7-10, and Qatar, Ministry of Infor- 
mation, Qatar into the Seventies (May 1973) , pp. 20-26, 

46 The Financial Times , 25 April 1972, p. , 


They formed the Bahrain National Liberation Front, a 
clandestine movement with representative offices in 


Moscow, Beirut, Cairo and Damascus. A rival revolu- 
tionary group , composed mainly of Sunni Arabs , had 
Cairo's support. British intelligence was well aware of 

the potential for insurrections, leading British Ambassa- 

dors! and Political Agents in the Gulf to seek some way 

to "incubate" the shaikhdoms through the critical 

transition period. Previous military actions on behalf 

of Kuwait, following that state's independence in 1961, 

had set the precedent for a similar post-withdrawal 

commitment in the lower Gulf. ° 

Whitehall reasoned that, with "the virtual 

i certainty that the Soviet Union will seek to replace the 

British presence with her own," Moscow would actively 

25. (Richard Johns) . 

Times (London), 12 January 1969, p. 9. (Win- 
ston S. Churchi-1) , Sir William Luce, interview, con- 
firmed this intitial predilection to adhere to a 
Kuwait-style scenario, extending the blanket of protec- 
tion to all the shaikhdoms. Also see Sir William Luce, 
"Britain and the Persian Gulf," Round Table 227 (July 
1967) : 277-283. 

48 Ibid. 


Times (London), 12 January 1969, p. 9. (Winston 

S . Churchill) . 


promote an insurgency to attain that end. 50 Suspicions^ 
of malevolency grew when a Soviet cruiser, a missile- 


equipped destroyer and an anti-submarine escort called 
at ports in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf in March 
1968. Indeed, a Russian presence had already been 
established in one of the Gulf states, Iraq. Through an 
artful combination of arms supplies and economic 
assistance to Baghdad, "a state of affairs in which 
there is a certain state of dependence by the Ba ' ath 
regime on Soviet help" had been created. 2 Some 
observers scoffed at reports of Russian penetration, 
noting that the only client (Iraq) was "chronically 
coup-ridden and universally distrusted." But the 

See The Gulf; Implications of British With- 
drawal (Washington: Georgetown University Center for 
Strategic and International Studies, 1969), pp. 110, 
for elaboration of the strategic rationale behind this 
alleged Soviet policy. Also see A. S. Becker and A. L. 
Horelick, Soviet Policy in the Middle East r-504-FF 
(Santa Monica : Rand Corp. , 1970), pp. 115, that traces 
the evolution of the Soviet low-risk "spoiling" opera- 
tion against the Baghdad Pact to their high-risk 
policy of the 1970s. 

-^Alvin J. Cottrell, "British Withdrawal from the 
Persian Gulf," Military Review 50 (June 1970): 21. 

52 Aryeh Y. Yodfat, "Russia's Other Middle East 
Pasture: Iraq," New Middle East 38 (November 1971): 29. 

53 Abraham S. Becker, Oil and the Persian Gulf in 
Soviet Policy in the 1970s P-4743-1 (Santa Monica: Rand 
Corp., 1972): 19. 


Soviets were committed to a global naval capability. 

Their corresponding diplomatic and military advances, 

both in the eastern Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, had 

indicated their adoption of an expansionist policy. 

Their arrival in the Gulf was the logical extension of 

that strategy. 

If that did not suffice to disconcert the 

British officials, the Chinese Communists had tossed 

another red cap into the ring. The target for Peking's 

attack and London's concern lay to the south of the 

Trucial States, in Oman, where Sultan Said bin Taimur 

ruled a medieval autocracy under British protection. 

Since July 1953, Her Majesty's Royal Air Force (RAF) 

and Army had assigned advisors to the Sultan's Armed 

Forces (SAF) in exchange for base-rights at Salalah and 

on the Indian Ocean island of Masirah. The British had 

earlier helped to defeat tribal enemies of the Sultan 

in central Oman (See Chapter One) , and more recently 

were employed against the separatist movement in the 

souther province of Dhofar. 

^ 4 Lawrence L. Whettan, "The Military Consequences 
of Mediterranean Super Power Parity," New Middle East 
38 (November 1971) : 19. 

"The World: His Highness' mercenaries," The 
Economist 235 (4 April 1970): 31. Also see R. M. 



The southern revolt had festered for several 
years but, after British forces withdrew from the Aden 


colony in 1967, a leftist regime took over the adjacent 
Peoples' Republic of South Yemen and the situation 
changed. Some cross-border ideological links were al- 
ready formed in 1965, when the movement became the 
Dhofar Liberation Front (DLP) , a Nasi vis t-leaning local 
army. With the evolution of a Marxist government in Aden 
by 1969, both the military and political aspects of the 
rebellion intensified. The ideological orientation had 
already been shifting to the left, and the 1967 
Peoples* Party Congress changed the DLF name to the 
Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arab 
Gulf (PFLOAG) . It was a Marxist-Leninist organization 
dedicated to communizing Oman and the neighboring Gulf 
shaikhdoms. The same year, thirty Dhofari rebel 

Burrell, The Persian Gulf (New York: Library Press, 
1972) , ppT 61-62. Also see James Morris, Sultan in 
Oman (London: Faber & Faber, 1964) , for additional back- 
ground . 

An excellent account of this Marxist nation's 
genesis and prospects is offered in Joe Stork, "Socialist 
Revolution in Arabia," Middle East Research and Informa- 
tion Project 15 (March 1973): 1-25. 

See Statement of the Second Congress, Hamrin 
(September 1968) , contained in Dhofar, Britain's 
Colonial War in the Gulf: A Collection of Documents and 
Articles (Londonl The Gulf Committee, January 1972) , " 


leaders went to Peking for political and guerrilla war- ' 
fare training. 58 4 

Area specialist, Dr. George Rentz, later testi- 
fied that as many as "several hundred Chinese technicians 
and advisors" in Southern Yemen could be behind the in- 
filtration of a Chinese presence into Oman through the 


PFLOAG. * Direct Moscow support was confined to 
Pravda reports of PFLOAG* s popularity and of British 
brutality, and an invitation was extended for a Dhofari 
delegation to join the Soviet- Afro-Asian Solidarity 
Committee in the USSR. 60 


SAF Commander, Colonel Teddy Turnhill, admitted 
that "this rebellion has become a revolutionary war 
different from just a rebellion to force the government 
to make changes. It sets out to change the entire 

pp. 7-10. 

58 R. P. Owen, "The Rebellion in Dhofar — a Threat 
to Western Interests in the Gulf," The World Today 29 
(June 1973) : 267. 


United States Congress, House, The Committee 

on Foreign Affairs, The Middle East, 1971; The Need to 

Strengthen the Peace , Hearings Before the Subcommittee on 

the Near East , 92nd Congress, iirst session, ly/l, pp. 


60 Stephen Page, The USSR and Arabia: The Develop - 
ment of Soviet Policies and Attitudes Towards the 
Countries of the Arabian Peninsula (London: Central 
Asian Research Centra, 1971), p. ^16. 


social structure." 61 Ironically, many of those rebel 
soldiers had learned their martial arts in the Trucial 


Oman Scouts (TOS) . They now practiced their lessons 
with new equipment, including the ubiquitous Kalashnikov 
automatic rifle, Chinese-made versions of the SKS semi- 
automatic rifle and a host of other arms of Communist 
manufacture. 62 In 1971, the British Officer-in-Charge 
of Omani pacification expressed the view shared by most 
British officials : 

It is not so much the Dhofaris whom we are 
fighting, but rather the Chinese and the Soviets, 
united in a holy alliance to lay their hands 
on the wealth of this part of the world. 6 ^ 

Great Britain's Security Role 

One British response, widely criticized only for 
its tardiness, was to remove the chief source of local 
frustration, Oman's Sultan (See Chapter Two). Another 

Times (London), 3 August 1970, p. 6. (Paul 
Martin) . 

62 R. M. Burrell, p. 62. 

Le Monde (Paris) , 31 May 1971. Note the para- 
dox between General Graham's assessment and that of 
Crozier Brian, "Tactics of Terror — where Reds Will Strike 
Next," U.S. News and World Report 70 (March 1971): 77, 
who wrote: "If the British withdraw /from the Gulf 
Shaikhdoms_7 . . . That will remove the one real 
stabilizing factor in the area. Then we can expect a 
free-for-all involving the Chinesa and the Russians." __[ 


was to stand aside (albeit relubtantly) as their desig- 
nated custodial replacement, the Shah of Iran, joined 


the new Omani Sultan, Qabus, in militarily suppressing 
the Dhofari rebels. The seeds for the portentious 
Persian re-entry onto the Arabian peninsula had been 
fittingly sown during secret meetings between* Sultan 
Qabujs and the Shah at the Persopolis celebration in 
October 1971. 65 

The main British counter to the revolutionary 
menace was much subtler. Major General Sir John 
Willoughby, author of the report that recommended defense 
force composition for the Unioh of Arab Emirates, be- 
lieved subversion to be the principal threat to Gulf 
stability. Before accepting the U.A.E. advisory post, 
he had provided the key to understanding how both the 
British and the emirs would guard their security: 

. . . /The Defense Commander/ will have the 
three armed forces which, in support of civil 
power, work as one force. But there is a fourth 
service, part armed forces and part civil power, 

64 See Chapter Two. Also "The World: His High- 
ness* Mercenaries," p. 31. Also Col. V. J. Croizant, 
"Stability in the Persian Gulf," U.S. Naval Institute 
99 (July 1973): 49-59, describes Iran's military 
ascension in the Gulf and acceptance of the formerly 
British Gulf role. 

R. P. Owen, p. 271. Also see Hossein 
Amirsadeghi, "Iran's New Outward Look — An Authoritative 
Report from Tehran," New Middle E-?st 35 (August 



and that is the Intelligence Service. For 
all purposes of support and allotment of 
priorities, it is quite essential that the 
Intelligence Service is accepted as the 4 

senior service. . . . 6 

This conception became reality as Britain executed her 

withdrawal policy. 

As discussed in Chapter Two (pages 71-77) 
the rulers had ignored General Willoughby's call for a 
single Union Defense Force. Each chose instead to re- 
tain his own dedicated unit. One British Trucial Oman 
Scouts (TOS) officer pointed out a salutary offshoot 
of that proliferation, noting "It is devilishly diffi- 
cult to co-ordinate a coup in *six armies."" 7 

The difficulty was compounded by the plethora 
of British officers and expatriates left to occupy 
responsible positions in the Gulf security establishment 
after 1971. In this manner, Whitehall partially miti- 
gated the deleterious military effects of force disper- 
sion by furnishing British commanding officers for the 

1971): 9-11. 

^ 6 Major General Sir John Willoughby, "Problems of 
Counter-Insurgency in the Middle East," Journal of the 
Royal United Services Institute 113 (May 1968): 108. 


Quoted by Richard Johns, "The Emergence of the 

United Arab Emirates , " Middle East International 21 

(March 1973) : 9. 



larger shaikhly armies. These men were accustomed to 
mutual cooperation, and supplemented that operational 
advantage through an intricate and effective system of 
intelligence liaison. About forty percent of the 
officers in the Abu Dhabi Defense Force, by far the most 
powerful in the shaikhdoms, were British. The ADDF was 
commanded by a seconded British officer, and the key 
staff positions, operations and intelligence, were also 
held by the British. The Trucial Oman Scouts had always 
been British-officered, and nearly one hundred continued 
to serve when the T.O.S. became the Union Defense Force 
after independence. Dubai's Defense Force, also under 
British command, had about ten British officers assigned. 
Though none served in the armed forces of Sharjah or 
Ras al Khaima, both those armies were committed to the 

Union Defense Force in any major contingency and would 

therefore come under British control. 

Complementing the uniformed official pervasion, 

the British expatriates who had headed the police forces 

and vital Special Branches (police-intelligence) in the 

shaikhdoms prior to withdrawal remained behind to provide 

•continuity." 69 This residual military and civilian 


Phillip Griffin, interview. 

^^Michael Burrell, interview. _ 1 


presence comprised in effect the "senior service" to 
which General Willoughby had alluded in his 1968 


article (see above page 149) . 

Trucial Oman Scouts 

Turning over the Trucial Oman Scouts did not 
proceed as smoothly as had the more critical insertion 
of British officials within the emirate security forces. 
Essentially a mercenary constabulary, the transfer of 
soldiers posed only mechanical problems. But there 
were enough to cause a last-minute embarrassing delay. 
An equitable gratuity had been paid to each man by the 
TOS Commander-in-Chief, Sir Geoffry Arthur, who points 
to a ninety percent re-enlistment rate into the Union 
Defense Force as proof that "it wasn't too much and it 


wasn't too low." /u Still the administrative shift of 
military authority proved to be a more complicated 

Under the British code of military justice, 
discipline in the ranks of the TOS had been maintained 
for nearly two decades. The Union of Arab Emirates, 
however, lacked an Army Act to codify the rights and 
responsibilities of the soldiers. When the British 


Sir Geoffry Arthur, interview. 



Gulf Political Residency on Bahrain drafted an appro- ~ ^ 
priate law for the U.A.E., the rulers refused to enact 
it f pending confirmation by their Council of Ministers. 
Sir Geoffry could not release his force without the 
law. Once again British action would have to await an 
Arab consensus, for at independence the ministries had 
not been officially assigned. 71 As an interim measure, 
the force was placed under a seconded British Colonel, 
who headed the Union's Defense Committee. It took until 
December 22, 1971, before the Political Resident was 

able to hand over the Trucial Oman Scouts to the Union 

President. This was fully three weeks after the 

exchange of notes that ended the special treaty relation- 
ship between the United Kingdom and the Trucial States. 7 -* 

The Exchange of Notes 

Those notes , individually signed and exchanged by 

71 Ibid. 

72 David Ledger, "Gulf Union," Middle East Inter- 
national 9 (December 1971) : 6. Also the date was 
supplied by Sir Geoffry Arthur, interview. 


For text see, Great Britain, Foreign Office, 

Exchange of Notes Concerning the Termination of Special 

Treaty Relations Between the United Kingdom of Great 

Britain and Northern Ireland and the Trucial States 

(Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain, Ras 

al Khaima and Fujairah ) , Treaty Series N. 34 (1972) , 

Cmd. 4941, 1 December 1971, pp. 20. 


Sir Geoffry Arthur with each emir, terminated British 
protection. It was considered "inconsistent with 
membership in a Union which has full international 
responsibility as a sovereign and independent State 
. . . " 74 Together with the Treaty of Friendship that 
was made the following day at Dubai between the United 
Kingdom and the six member states (Ras al Khaima did not 
join the Union until February 1972) of the United Arab 
Emirates, Britain rescinded the Treaty system that had 
prevailed for more than a century and a half. 

This also capped a Foreign Office project 
launched in August 1970. Every operative treaty and 
protoc l between Her Majesty and the sh a ikhs had been 
reviewed to assess what legal readjustments were necessi- 
tated by their ending. Sovereign rights had been ceded 
to Britain, and provisions were taken to bring future 
governmental interactions into a more conventional 
arrangement. Throughout the withdrawal period and even 
beyond, various accords were reached for future 
bilateral relations, ranging from overflight rights to 
commercial affairs. These compacts actually replaced 

74ibid., p. 3. 

75 Anthony Reeve, interview. 



the Treaty system that was ended in 1971. 

The Treaty of Friendship pledged its signatories 
to "a spirit of close friendship . . .." and a "common 
interest in peace and stability of the region ..." 
Mutual "consultation" in time of need was the sole 
obligation either signatory incurred. In August 1971, 
Bahrain was granted the treaty, after Shaikh Isa bin 

Solman al-Khalifa declared his island fully indepen- 

dent. The next month, Qatar predictably followed the 

Bahraini lead, determined to "implement its full 

authority externally as well as internally."^ Sir 

William Luce revealed that the « six federated shaikhdoms 

had to be restrained from formally emulating Qatar and 

"Great Britain, Foreign Office, Treaty of 
Friendship Between the United Kingdom of Great Britain 
and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates , 
Treaty Series No. 35 (1972) Cmd. 4937, 2 December 1971, 
p. 3. 


Isa bin Solman al-Khalifa, official statement 

issued at Rifa Palace, Bahrain, 14 August 1971. In the 
announcement, Shaikh Isa declared Bahrain's: "continued 
readiness to join the Federation of Arab Emirates or the 
new State of Arab Emirates as soon ... as its Govern- 
ment is set up and its structure stands upon the sound 
and constitutional bases and principles which the people 
of this Arab area believe in . . . " 

' ^Quoted from the Qatar Proclamation of Indepen- 
dence, in the Times (London) (Special Report) , 5 
September 1971, p. IV. See also Great Britain, Foreign 
Office, Exchange of Notes Concerning the Termination of 
Special Treaty Relations Between the United Kingdom of . 


Bahrain too quickly. Had he not defused the islands 

dispute first, the Shah would have wrecked any union 

not under British protection. The Foreign Ministry 

of the UAE confirms that in July 1971, the six had 
reached agreement, having "fully realized the balance 
of give and take in the Union." But they had not 
been dealing with the Shah as had Luce. 

The Arab readiness for independence, notwith- 
standing, there were enough unresolved details from the 

British perspective to forestall closure of the Gulf 

Residency until March 26, 1972. No longer would that 

office serve the British interest. The activities 

described in the foregoing pages had been intended to 

make it redundant. 

Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the State of Qatar , 
Cmd. 4849, 3 September 1973. 

^Sir William Luce, interview. 


United Arab Emirates, Foreign Ministry, United 

Arab Emirates , September 1972, p. 14. 

°^Sir Geoffry Arthur, interview. 





Securing British Interests 

This thesis set out to determine how Great 
Britain perceived, pursued and protected her interests 
in the Persian Gulf after the 1968 decision to withdraw 
all permanent British forces from the area by 1971. The 
previous chapters described a transitional process. The 
decision to withdraw, first taken by the Labor Govern- 
ment and then reluctantly accepted by their Conservative 
successors, actually preceded the formulation of a with- 
drawal policy. That in turn emerged in much the same 
way as had the Treaty System itself, in pragmatic 
response to conditions confronted by men charged with 
executing their Governments* decisions. Indeed, the 
policy and process of withdrawal were inextricably inter- 
woven as soldiers and statesmen sought to ensure an 
abiding role in the Gulf for their country. In less 
than four years , they moved their Government from the 
status of protector to that of first among equals in the 
international relationships of her former protectorates. 



The Withdrawal Policy 

What was Great Britain's preeminent policy objec- 
tive during withdrawal? Historically British officials 
concerned with the Persian Gulf had consistently sought 
the same long-term goal, regional stability, though 
their immediate interests varied widely. Original con- 
cerns with maritime trade and imperial routes gave way 
increasingly to a British industrial society's insatiable 
thirst for the oil that was so plentiful along the 
Persian Gulf. By 1973, Sir William Luce would say: 
"Oil is what the Gulf is all about." This conception 
dominated British Gulf policy through most of the 
twentieth century. Her interest was oil, how best to 
reach it, to profit from it, to control it. British 
planners wrestled with the problem, seeking the equation 
that would supply their answers. Oil was the constant 
in all policy proposals , and the least common denomina- 
tor of all the suggestions was stability. With it came 
the physical security that was the essential precondition 
for guaranteeing the free flow of Gulf oil for British 
needs. Without it, the vulnerable petroleum 

Sir William Luce, speech jiven before the 
Middle East Institute Annual Conference of 1973, Wash- 
ington, D.C., 28 September 1973. 



installations and transport systems were not expected to' 
survive let alone to profit. Oil-rich but economically 
stagnant Iraq was easily cited as an all too proximate 
example of the dangers inherent in political instability. 

The Pax-Britannica had reigned in the Persian 
Gulf for over 150 years and, with the coming of the oil 
era, had been extended over the strip of land that lay 
behind the coastal commercial enclaves. The stability 
it brought was largely attributed to the continuing 
presence of British naval and military forces, a factor 
first introduced in quest of maritime peace. The 1968 
decision to withdraw them was really taken for reasons — 
economic, political and military — essentially out of the 
context of the Persian Gulf (see Chapter One) . Yet 
those arms had traditionally enforced the peace that 
freed the oil; oil was a vital component of the British 
economy. Whitehall, that is the men responsible for 
executing the decision to end the Treaty System, recog- 
nized the need for maintaining regional stability. 
Therefore removing the British military forces required 
some compensatory formula to achieve that goal be 
devised. The practical policy that evolved aimed at 
approximating the political status quo that prevailed 
under the Treaty System, whereby Britain's position and 


power could be sustained. ' 

The Pursuit of British Interest * 

That policy was pursued (as described in 
chapters two, three and four) between January 1968 and 
December 1971. Whitehall attempted to establish a 
milieu conducive to ongoing tranquility, based on three 
pilllars. First, regional cooperation was to be encour- 
aged by removing the tangible sources of Iranian and 
Arabian resentment. Territorial conflicts demanded con- 
sideration, as did prospective inter-governmental rela- 
tions between the shaikhdoms and the other Gulf states. 
Since the "special relationship" that encompassed the 
nine emirates had excluded even local "foreign" powers, 
normal diplomatic contacts never existed. Indeed, 
British protection had blanketed several regional 
differences and obviated the need to reach compromises . 
Examples include Saudi Arabia's claim to Buraimi, Iraq's 
to Kuwait, and Iran's to Bahrain. Such matters could 
no longer be ignored. 

The second policy pillar concerned the preparation 
of the nine shaikhdoms for the projected new circumstan- 
ces. The British protectorates were to be formed into a 

viable polity, able to fully participate in Gulf politics 



in such a way as to not rely on Great Britain's armed 
forces . 

There was also a third pillar on which the with- 
drawal policy stood. Although inherent in the conduct 
of international affairs by any state, it was uniquely 
emphasized by Whitehall in this case. This was to 
maximize British influence, not simply in conjunction 
with the dual policy aims mentioned above, but, more 
specifically, in the determination of the Gulf's politi- 
cal direction following the exodus of British forces in 

The Accomplishments 

What had actually been accomplished between the 
January 196 8 decision and Sir Geoffry Arthur's departure 
from the Persian Gulf in 1972? The preceding chapters 
limn the events, but their meaning is open to conjec- 
ture. From the perspective of Sir William Luce, 
Britain's withdrawal had been "reasonably successful." 
As he saw it, she had retained access to and participa- 
tion in the lucrative marketing of Gulf oil, and a 
responsive security establishment remained to protect 
that asset. Potentially debilitating international dis- 
putes had been resolved or abated. Indigenous "stable 



and progressive" Arab governments were left to rule the 
shaikhdoms , as independent participants in the community , 
of nations. Great Britain had bequeathed stability in 

her own interest, and to the mutual benefit of all the 

peoples of the Gulf. 

A radically different view, shared by many 

Communist and Leftist writers, interprets the British 

withdrawal differently. They hold that Whitehall had 

sustained a three-tiered, neo-colonial strategy to: 

1. produce puppet regimes backed by foreign-manned 
military units, 

2. guaranteed by the reactionary regional powers, 

3. encircled by an outer ring of Anglo-American 
military bases. 

Britain continued to "rule behind a facade of indepen- 
dence," what one Soviet analyst termed a "pocket 
empire , " from Oman . 

A case can be made for both interpretations , given 

2 Ibid. 

^Fred Halliday, "Oil and the Revolution in the 
Persian Gulf," Ramparts 9 (April 1971): 54. 

G. Dynov, "Persian Gulf Countries at the Cross- 

Roads," International Affairs (Moscow) (March 1973): 

54. J 


their respective political points of departure. Recog- 
nizing that, this assessment will indulge neither the 
apologists nor the polemicists, but will address the 
question, how well did Whitehall's efforts serve the 
withdrawal policy objective, stability in the Persian 

The three-pillar withdrawal policy described 
above was only partially successful. Major Arab-Iranian 
disputes over Bahrain and Abu Musa were effectively 
negotiated if not wholly resolved, but the forceful 
Iranian occupation of the Tunbs islands represented a 
shortcoming of British diplomacy that had dangerous 
ramifications . 

Inter-Arab cooperation had been facilitated by 
the British, as shown by the joint Saudi and Kuwaiti 
response to the withdrawal. That had been coordinated 
with Whitehall's attempts to assist the Gulf emirs in 
adapting to the new situation. The deposition of the 
Omani Sultan might also be included among Britain's 
positive contributions toward the long-term regional 
stability. Yet these cannot obscure the failures. The 
inability to accomodate all sides in the Buraimi issue 
belied ominous inter-Arab discord, and cast a long 
shadow over the newly independent shaikhdoms . It . 


blocked Riyad's diplomatic recognition of the Union of 
Arab Emirates, and diverted the federation's limited 
human resources to a hopeless military purpose. 

Nor was the creation of a political structure that 
could adequately rule and represent the ex-Protectorates, 
Britain's second policy pillar, fully accomplished. The 
formal transition from the Treaty System to normalized 
international relations between London and the shaikhdoms 
was substantially completed. Only certain technical 
rearrangements were carried over into 1975. Legally, 
Her Majesty's jurisdiction was retroceded in due course. 
The problem posed by Qatar's early independence was more 
clerical than judicial, and was expeditiously handled by 
all concerned. The exchange of minor, functional respon- 
sibilities went less smoothly, but was effected well in 
advance of the administrative deadline. 

Beyond that formal transition, Great Britain's 
role in the transfer of political power to the shaikhdoms 
was ambiguous. Officially, the Government applauded the 
Arab initiatives toward consolidating their position 
but, in practice, British withdrawal policy became en- 
meshed in her own domestic politics. The Labor Govern- 
ment's volte face in announcing the 1968 decision, 
coupled with the Conservative Party's proclaimed . 


intention to reverse the withdrawal, virtually neutrali- ~ ' 
zed Whitehall's support for the union. The original 
discreet distance British diplomats kept from the 
budding federation was misinterpreted by the rulers as 
disinterest and, when more active British participation 
did come, it came too late. Predictably, the -nine 
disparate shaikhdoms fell short of the ideal union so 
ardently desired by their fellow Arabs. 

They emerged instead in 1971 as three separate 
states. Their leaders were only marginally cooperative, 
with populations whose greatest similarity lay in their 
diversity. Wasteful duplication of prestige develop- 
mental projects marked the waning years of Britain's 
"special relationship," and minimal economic integration 
remained a goal long after the British departure from 
the Gulf. The decline of Great Britain's intercession- 
ary power in the shaikhdoms was shown clearly as she 
lost her dominant trade position. Even prior to 1968, 
this was being eroded by European and Japanese entrepre- 
neurs. By 1971, those advantages Britain retained were 
less a function of Whitehall's perspicacity than of the 
individual acumen of British businessmen. 

Since stability had been the fundamental objec- 
tive, it is not surprising that Britain's most notable 


legacy would lie in the field df defense. Securing 
what political institutions evolved during withdrawal 
would both maintain a semblance of the previous regional 
configuration and provide the means for perpetuating 
British influence in the Gulf. Although General 
Willoughby's masterplan for a single union defense 
force had been rejected by the rulers, a crude integra- 
tion 1 of the various shaikhly guards under the former 
Trucial Oman Scouts was postulated in post-withdrawal 
contingency plans. Bahrain and Qatar formed independent, 
well-equipped fighting units under British tutelage, 
while seconded and contract British officers permeated 
the command structure of the United Arab Emirate defense 
establishment . 

These military officials were complemented by 
their civilian countrymen, who served in highly respon- 
sible police and counter-intelligence capacities. This 
variation of the British presence injected command co- 
ordination, intelligence liaison and a uniform military 
approach across the spectrum of shaikhly differences, 
jealousies and suspicions. Their familiarity with and 
bias toward British-manufactured equipment also 
facilitated the sizeable arms sales that further 
increased Britain's leverage in the security realm. , 


Most relevant was the placement of personnel 
within the security establishment. Their influence on 
the rulers, and their expertise applied against the 
forces threatening Gulf stability, combined to create a 
credible alternative to Britain's military forces in 
the area. Whitehall maintained control of security 
policy, retaining as many British links as possible, 
commensurate with the altered international status of 
the shaikhdoms. This does not belie any insidious 
British ploy, for from both Whitehall's perspective and 
implicit in the rulers* acceptance of the arrangement, 
the oft-stated goal of peace in the Gulf was being 

The Final Score 

How well did Britain's withdrawal policy and 
process serve her national interests after 1971? Since 
concern for petroleum was central , it needs to be asked 
to what degree the product of the withdrawal years met 
the problem. Certainly, in the immediate aftermath, the 
oil continued to flow. But, before a sufficient time 
elapsed to properly evaluate the system Britain be- 
queathed, the new international relationship was over- 
taken by events. In 1973, the combined effects of the 



world energy crisis and the Arab oil embargo pushed ~~! 
Great Britain to the brink of economic disaster, while 
powerful if subtle encroachments on the regional politi- 
cal arrangements eroded the tenuous power-base of the 
security establishment. Could there have been an 
alternative Gulf policy in the year 1968 through 1971 
that might have avoided this? The answer must be an 
unequivocal no. Far from a failure of diplomacy, the 
Gulf had been caught up in the dynamics of transcendent 
consumer-producer state relationships. 

Yet out of this there comes one final question, 
the answer to which exceeds the scope of this paper. 
Had colonial policies, not only in the Gulf but wherever 
Western society interacted with less economically 
developed peoples, been based more on humanity than 
expediency, could the present international polarization 
have been averted? Is this the price for failing to 
impart the elements of progress and modernity in lieu 
of imposing the force of arms to ensure stability? 

This observation is not intended to be critical 
of British efforts expended between 1968 and 1971. In 
fact, given the limited time available to formally con- 
clude the Treaty System, the magnitude of the regional 
political adjustment that was required and the 


complicating extrinsic factors that applied, Whitehall' s~l 
accomplishment was remarkable. British diplomats per- 
formed in the vortex of Gulf politics, within range of 
Soviet cruisers and Mao's thoughts, implementing a pro- 
found decision that had been taken out of the local 
context. That they succeeded as well as has been 
described testifies to their professionalism. 




I. Primary 

A. Interviews 

Arthur, Sir Geoffry. Diplomat. Under-Secretary for 

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom. 
Interview, 24 October 1973, London, England. 

Bannerman, Patrick. Diplomat. U.K. Office of Foreign 
I and Commonwealth Affairs, Research Department. 
Interview, 25 October 1973, London, England. 

Burrell, R. Michael. Author. School of Oriental and 

African Studies, University of London. Interview, 
25 October 1973, London, England. 

Griff en, Phillip. Diplomat. U.S. Charge d' Affairs for 
Union of Arab Emirates. Interview, 17 August 
1973, Washington, D.C. 

Luce, Sir William. Former British Diplomat and Gulf 
Special Representative of the Secretary for 
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom. 
Interview, 24 October 1973, London, England. 

Reeve, Anthony. Diplomat. United Kingdom Embassy, 
Washington, D.C. Interview, 1 October 1973, 
Washington , D.C. 

Shakr, Karim. Diplomat. Second Secretary, Bahrain 

Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Inter- 
view, 25 September 19 73, New York, New York. 

B. Newspapers and Periodicals 

Al Ahram (Cairo) , 29 February 1968. Quoted in Mizan, 
March/April 1968, p. 50. 

Christian Science Monitor , 6 March 1968. 

Financial Times (London) , 16 December 1971-25 April 1972. 



> " ~l 

Le Monde (Paris), 31 May 1971-20 July 1967. 

Middle East Journal (Chronology) June 1967-February 1972. 

New York Times , 4 July 1961-15 June 1971, 19 July 1967, 
17 January 1968. 

al-Rai al-Am (Kuwait), 19 May 1970. Cited in Alvin 

Cottrell, "The United States and the Future of 
the Gulf After the Bahrain Agreement , "> New Middle 
East, July 1970, p. 19. 

Times (London) , 16 May 1963-21 December 1971. 
Washington Post , June 1967-February 1972. 

C. Public Documents 

1. Officially Produced 

Bahrain. Ministry of Information. The State of Bahrain , 

Great Britain. Arbitration Concerning Buraimi and the 
Common Frontier Between Abu Dhabi and Saudi 
Arabia: Memorial Submitted by the Government of 
Great Britain and Northern Ireland . London: 
HMSO, 1955. 

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Exchange of Notes Con- 

cering the Termination of Special Treaty Relations 
Between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and 
Northern Ireland and the State of Qatar . Treaty 
Series 35 (1972). Cmnd. 4849. 

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Exchange of Notes Con - 
cerning the Termination of Special Treaty Rela - 
tions between the United Kingdom of Great Britain 
and Northern Ireland and the Trucial States (Abu 
Dhabi, Dubai, Shaijah, Ajman, Umual Qawain, Ras 
a Khaima and FujawahH Treaty Series 34 (1972) . 
Cmnd. 4941. 

Great Britain. Foreign Office. Treaty of Friendship 
Between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and 



Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates . 
Treaty Series 35 (1972). Cmnd. 4937. 

Great Britain. Ministry of Defense. The Defense Review . 
February 1971. Cmnd. 4592. February 1968. Cmnd. 

Great Britain. Ministry of Defense. Special Supplemen- 
tary Statement on Defense . October 1970. Cmnd. 

Great Britain. Ministry of Defense. Statement on 

Defense Estimates . April 1957. Cmnd. 123. Re- 
printed in Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces 
Yearbook, 19 57 . London : Clower, 1957. 

Great Britain. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates 

(Commons), 5th series, vol. 812 (1971). Also: 
Vol. 542 (1955), Vol. 573 (1957); Vol. 696 (1964); 
Vol. 704 (1964); Vol. 707 (1965); Vol. 725 (1966); 
Vol. 749 (1967), and Vol. 757 (1968). 

Qatar. Ministry of Information. Qatar into the 
Seventies, 1973. 

Saudi Arabia. Arbitration for the Settlement of the 
Settlement of the Territorial Dispute between 
Muscat and Abu Dahbi on One Side and Saudi Arabia 
on the Other: Memorial of the Government of 
Saudi Arabia , Vol. T~: Text . Cairo: n.p, 

United Arab Emirates. Foreign Ministry. United Arab 
Emirates . September 1972. 

United Arab Emirates. Ministry of Information. UAE 
First Anniversary 1972 . 

United Nations. U.N. Monthly Chronicle . April 1970, 
pp. 56-57 and May 1970, pp. 4-6. 

U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

The Middle East 1971: The Need to Strengthen the 
Peace . Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the 
Near East , 92nd Cong., 1st sess., 1971. 



U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Affairs. 
U.S. Interests in and Policy Toward the Persian 
Gulf . Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the " 
Near East , 92nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1972. 

United States. Department of State. Background Notes : 
United Arab Emirates . Pubn. 7901 (1972) . 

2. Privately Reproduced Government Documents 

February 1968. Abu Dhabi-Dubai Agreement to Federate, 
Orient (Hamburg), April 1968, p. 67. 

Aitchison, C. V. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements 
and Sanado Relating to India and Neighboring 
Countries . Vol. 2 and 13. 


Hurewitz, J. C. Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East; 
A Documentary Record 1914-1956 Vol. II. Prince- 
ton: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1956. 

Lorimor, J. C. Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and 

Central Arabia . Vol. 1. Calcutta: Government of 
India, 1915. 

The Provisional Constitution of the United Arab Amirates. 
Middle East Journal, Summer 1972, pp. 307-325. 

3. Pamphlets 

"Arabia When Britain Goes." Fabian Society Research 

Series No. 259 . London: Tahrain Society, April 

Dhofar. Britain's Colonial War in the Gulf. A Collec- 
tion of Documents and Articles . London: The 
Gulf Committee, January 1972. 

A Presence East of Suez . Forword by Sir Alec Douglas 
Home. London: Conservative Political Centre, 
November 1969. 

Red Fleet Off Suez . Forword by Sir Alex Douglas-Home. 
London: Conservative Political Centre, January 
1969. j 


A Survey for Businessmen; States of the Arabian Gulf . 
~~~~ London : Chamber of Commerce , 1969. 

D. Published Works by Individuals Involved in the 


Heath, Edward. "Realism in British Foreign Policy." 
Foreign Affairs , October 1969, pp. 39-50. 

Luce, Sir William. "Britain and the Persian Gulf." 
Round Table , July 1967, pp. 277-283. 

"Britain's Withdrawal from the Middle East 

and Persian Gulf." Journal of the Royal United 
Services Institute , March 1969, pp. 4-10. 

"A Naval Force for the Gulf: Balancing In- 

evitable Russian Penetration." Round Table , 
October 19 69, pp. 347-356. 

Mayhew, Christopher. Britain's Role Tomorrow . London: 
Hutchison and Co., Ltd., 1967. 

Willoughby, M. Gen. Sir. John. "Problems of Counter 

Insurgency in the Middle East." Journal of the 
Royal United Services Institute , May 1968, pp. 

E. Statements by Principals Involved 

al Khalifa, Shaikh Isa bin Solman. Official Statement 
issued at Rifa Palace, Bahrain, 14 August 1971. 

Luce, Sir William. Speech presented to the Middle East 
Institute Annual Conference. Washington, D.C., 
September 1973. 

II . Secondary 

A. Books 

Adamiyat, Fereydoun. Bahrein Islands: A Legal and 

Diplomatic Study of the British-Iranian Contro- 
versy . New York: F. Praeger, Inc., 1955. i 


. ~I 
Al-Baharna, Husain. The Legal Status of the Arabian 
Gulf States . London: Manchester University 
Press, 1968. 

Becker, Abraham S. Oil and the Persian Gulf in Soviet 
Policy in the 1970s . Santa Monica : Rand Corp . , 

and Horelick, A. L. Soviet Policy in the 

Middle East . Santa Monica: Rand Corp., 1970. 

Belgxave , Charles . Personal Column: Autobiography . 
London: Hutchinson, 19 60. 

Burr^ell, R. M. The Persian Gulf . New York: Library 
Press, 1972. 

The Changing Balance of Power in the Persian Gulf: The 
Report of an International Seminar at the Center 
for Mediterranean Studies, Rome, June 26th to 
July 1st, 1972 . By Denis Wright, Chairman. New 
York: American Universities Field Staff, 1972. 

Darby, Phillip. British Defense Policy East of Suez 
1947-1968 . London: Oxford University Press, 

Fenelon, K. G. The Trucial States : A Brief Economic 
Survey . 2nd rev. Beirut: Khayats , 1969. 

Hawley, Donald. The Trucial States . London: Allen 
and Unwin, 1970. 

Hay, Sir Rupert A. The Persian Gulf States . Washington: 
Middle East Institute, 1959. 

Joshua, Wynford. Soviet Penetration into the Middle 

East . New York: National Strategy Center, Inc., 

Kelly, J. B. Britain and the Persian Gulf: 1795-1880 . 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. 

Kirk, George. A Short History of the Middle East . 
6th ed. London: Methuen, 1966. 



Kumer, Ravinder. India and the Persian Gulf Region, 

1858-1907: A Study in British Imperial Policy . 
London: Asia Publishing House, 1965. 

Malone, Joseph J. The Arab Lands of Western Asia . 

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 

Mann, Major Clarence. Abu Dhabi: Birth of an Oil 
Shaikhdom. Beirut: Khayats , 1964. 

Monroe, Elizabeth. Britain's Moment in the Middle East, 
1914-1956 . London: Chatto and Windus, 1964. 

Morris, James. Sultan in Oman . London: Faber and 
Faber, 1964. 

Mosley, Leonard. Power Play: The Story of Oil in the 
Middle East . New York: Random House, 1973. 

Page, Stephen. The USSR and Arabia: The Development of 
Soviet Policies and Attitudes Towards the 
Countries of the Arabian Peninsula . London: 
Central Asian Research Centre, 1971. 

Phillips, Wendell. Oman: A History . New York: Reynal, 

The Princeton University Conference. Middle East Focus : 
The Persian Gulf. Proceedings of the Twentieth 
Annual Near East Conference . Ed. by T. Cuyler 
Young. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Univer- 
sity Conference, 1969. 

Ramazani, Rouhollah K. The Persian Gulf: Iran's Role . 
Charlottesville, Va. : University Press of 
Virginia, 1972. 

Sharabi, Hisharn. Personal comment contained in The 

Gulf: Implications of British Withdrawal , by the 
Georgetown University Center for Strategic 
International Studies. Washington, D.C.: George- 
town University Center for Strategic International 
Studies, 1969. 

Shwadran, Benjamin. The Middle East, Oil and the Great 
Powers, 1959 . 2nd ed. New York: Council for i 


the Middle East Affairs Press, 1959. 

Winder, R. Bayly. Saudi Arabia in the Nineteenth 

Century. New York: St. Martins Press, 1965. 

B. Articles 

"After Persopolis," The Economist , 23 October 1972, pp. 

Amirsadeghi, Hossein. "Iran's New Outward Look — An 
Authoritative Report from Tehren . " New Middle 
East , August 1971, pp. 9-11. 

Anthony, John Duke. "The Union of Arab Amirates." 

Middle East Journal , Summer 1972, pp. 271-287. 

"Bahrain." Times (London) Special Report, 20 May 1971, 
also 16 December 1971. 

Bondarevskiy, G. L. "The Continuing Western Interest in 
Oman as Seen From Moscow." New Middle East , 
August 1971, pp. 11-15. 

"Britain and the Gulf." Times (London) Special Report. 
16 December 1970. 

Brown, Neville. "British Arms and the Switch Towards 
Europe." International Affairs , July 1967, pp. 

"Britain and the Gulf — Don't Go Just Yet 

Please I The Wisdom of Withdrawal Reconsidered. 
New Middle East , September 1970, pp. 43-46. 

Cottrell, Alvin J. "British Withdrawal from the 

Persian Gulf." Military Review , June 197 0, pp, 

. "Conflict in the Persian Gulf." Military 

Review , February 1971, pp. 33-41. 

. "The United States and the Future of the 

Gulf after the Bahrain Agreement." New Middle 
East , July 1970, pp. 18-21. 



"Countdown for a Federation." The Economist (Special 

Survey of the Arabian Peninsula) , 6 June 1970, pp. 

Croizant, V. J. "Stability in the Persian Gulf." U.S. 
Naval Institute , July 1973, pp. 48-49. 

Crozier, Brian. "Tactics of Terror — Where Reds Will 
Strike Next." U.S. News and World Report , 1 
March 1971, pp. 75-78. 

"The Curator Package." New Statesman , 19 January 1968, 
pp. 61-62. 

"The Dangerous Gulf." Times (London), 17 August 1968, 
p. 7. 

Dyrev, G. "Persian Gulf Countries at the Cross-Roads. " 
International Affairs (Moscow), March 1973, pp. 

"East of Suez, West of Suez." The Economist , 6 February 
1965, p. 512. 


The Gulf: Can't Stay, Can't Go." The Economist , 31 
October 1970, pp. 30-33. 

"The Gulf: If Not Nine, Maybe Seven." The Economist , 
12 June 1970, p. 40. 

"Going, Going. ..." The Economist (Special Survey on 
the Arabian Peninsula), 6 June 1970, pp. 34-35. 

Halliday, Fred. "Oil and Revolution in the Persian 
Gulf." Ramparts , April 1971, pp. 52-54. 

Hamilton, Lee. Speech given before the U.S. House of 

Representatives on 11 January 1973. Reprinted in 
Vital Speeches , 1 February 1973, pp. 239-242. 

Harris, Christina Phelps. "The Persian Gulf Submarine 
Telegraph of 1864." The Geographical Journal , 
June 1969, pp. 169-190. 


Hartshorn, J. E. "Oil and the Middle East War." World 
Today , April 1968, pp. 151-157. 



Holden, David. "The Persian Gulf: After the British 
Raj." Foreign Affairs , July 1971, pp. 721-735. 

Hoskins, Harold. "Changing of the Guard in the Middle 
East." Current History , February 1967, pp. 65- 

"Industry: Industrial Diversification." Middle East 
Sketch , 15 December 1972, pp. 21-26. 

Johns, Richard. "The Emergence of the United Arab 

Emirates." Middle East International , March 1973, 
pp. 8-10. 

Ledger, David. "Gulf Union." Middle East International , 
December 1971, pp. 6-7. 

Marlin, L. W. "British Defense Policy: The Long Re- 
cessional." Adelphi Papers , November 1969, pp. 

Marlowe, John. "Arab-Persian Rivalry in the Persian 
Gulf." Royal Central Asian Society Journal , 
January 1964, pp. 23-31. 

Monroe, Elizabeth. "British Bases in the Middle East: 
Assets or Liabilities." International Affairs , 
January 1966, pp. 24-34. 

Owen, R. P. "The Rebellion in Dhofar — A Threat to 

Western Interests in the Gulf." The World Today , 
June 1973, pp. 266-272. 

Page, Martin. "Middle East II: Persian Gulf." Atlantic , 
April 1967, pp. 38-42. 

Pearson, Lester. "Unforgettable Ralph Bunch." Readers ' 
Digest , March 1973, pp. 87-93. 

"Persian Gulf: Intemperate Shah." The Economist , 10 
February 1968, p. 25. 

"Persian Gulf: Nine in Step." The Economist , 13 July 
1968, p. 28. 

"Sir Alec Up the Gulf." The Economist , 18 July 1970, 

pp. 14-15. J 


Stevens, J. H. "Changing Agricultural Practices in 
An Arabian Oasis „" The Geographical Journal , 
September 1970, pp. 410-418. Wm 

Stork, Joe. "Socialist Revolution in Arabia." Middle 

East Research and Information Project , March 1973, 
pp. 1-25. 

Sullivan, Robert. "The Architecture of Western Security 
in the Persian Gulf." Orbis ,~ Spring 1970, pp. 

Thomas, Roy E. "The Persian Gulf Region." Current 
History , January 1971. 


Volsky, D. "On the Persian Gulf." New Times , May 1968, 
pp. 14-15. 

Watt, D. C. "The Arabs, the Heath Government, and the 

Future of the Gulf." New Middle East , March 1971, 
pp. 25-27. 

Whettan, Lawrence L. "The Military Consequences of 
Mediterranean Super Power Parity." New Middle 
East , November 1971, pp. 14-25. 

"Who Fills the Vacuum East of Suez?" Business Week , 
20 January 1968, p. 31. 

Wilkenson, J. C. "The Oman Question: The Background to 
the Political Geography of South East Arabia." 
The Geographical Journal , September 1971, pp. 

"The World: His Highness' Mer-enaries. " The Economist 
4 April 1970, p. 31. 

Zelenin, V. "Britain's Maneuvers East of Suez." Inter- 
national Affairs (Moscow), November 1972. 

C. Interviews 

Dr. Abu Hakima, Gulf Historian. Interview conducted at 
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 25 August 

L J 

— 1:80 - 

Dr. Charles Issawi, Economist. Interview conducted at 
Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 6 October 

Dr. Joseph Malone, Historian and Arabist. Interview 
conducted in Washington, D.C., 21 August 1973, 
and in Pittsburgh, Pa., 14 September 1973. 



Great Britain's with 
drawa? f r0m the Pg W h " 

Gu»f ? 968-, 971: an S n a a n ? , 

I 5 '* of the policy and 
cne process. 

e-- 5 fr ft . i 


1 «" 

Great Britain's with- 
drawal from the Persian 
Gulf I968-1971: an Anal- 
ysis of the policy and 
the process. 


ihesM257 L. 

G mmm,' ]tam ' S withdra wal from the Pers 

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